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diversity of California^ 

















London : J. M. DENT & SONS, Ltd. 
New York: E. P. DUTTON & CO. 

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and in new york 




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For we cannot tarry here, 
We must march, my darlings, we must bear the brunt cf danger, 
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend, 

Pioneers ! O pioneers ! 

Have the elder races halted ? 
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the 

seas ? 
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson, 

Pioneers ! O pioneers ! 

Not for delectations sweet, 
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious, 
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment, 

Pioneers ! O pioneers ! 

Do the {casters gluttonous feast ? 
Do the corpulent sleepers sleep ? have they lock'd and bolted doors ? 
Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground, 

Pioneers ! O pioneers ! 

This book has long been known and cherished by a few, but 
when it was first published, nearly twenty years ago, it made 
no wide appeal. It was caviare to the general. But the 
world has moved on a long way since 1895, and where it 
found an appreciative reader then, it should find a thousand 
now. It is in substance, though not in name, an autobio- 
graphy ; and it tells the tale of one of the most courageous 
and successful pieces of pioneering that has ever been accom- 
plished by man or woman. 

Walt Whitman, in the well-known poem, some stanzas of 
which are at the head of this page, credits " the youthful sinewy 
races " with the grand task of making the roads and leading 
the way to new realms of human activity : the elder races, 
he would have us think, have halted, " wearied over there 
beyond the seas " ; they have fallen back on " the cushion 


viii Introduction 

and the slipper," whilst the western pioneers fight on gallantly, 
joyfully opening the way for others to follow, rejoicing " in 
the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground," for " all the 
rest on us depend." 

But the pioneer in this case did not belong to " the youthful 
sinewy races." Elizabeth Blackwell was born and lived for 
the first eleven years of her life in Bristol. Her subsequent 
life in America no doubt placed her in an atmosphere that was 
favourable to the full development of her vigorous and self- 
reliant character. But readers of this book will see that she 
remained essentially an Englishwoman. She writes on her 
first visit to England, after her girlhood, of the strong attrac- 
tion which her native land exercised over her, and of her 
desire to settle there for good ; of the warm sympathy she 
received from her English friends, and how this " strengthened 
that feeling of kinship " to England which finally drew her 
back to it as her permanent home and last resting-place. It 
was not only the climate and scenery of England that won 
her heart, she found in England a congenial social environ- 
ment that appealed most powerfully to her. 

In 1859 she writes to her sister Emily Blackwell: "The 
more I see of work in England the more I like it. . . . There 
is an immense charm in this fresh field where solid English 
heads receive the highest view of truth, where generosity and 
largeness of idea meet you at every turn. I like working and 
living in England, and there is no limit to what we might 
accomplish there." 

So with all due appreciation of Walt Whitman's noble 
poem let no one think that " the elder races . . . wearied 
over there beyond the seas " are incapable of the heroic 
courage, the persistent steadfastness, the power " to scorn 
delights and live laborious days," which every pioneer must 
bring to his task. 

Readers will almost inevitably compare and contrast this 
little book with the masterly Life of Florence Nightingale, 
published in 191 3. The two women resembled one another 
in many ways ; they were within a few months of the same 
age ; they both had the sense of vocation, the strong religious 
feeling as the base and root of all their work ; the same 
intense distaste to the ordinary life of young ladyhood, wasting 

Introduction ix 

time over inane conversation, paying calls and making baubles 
which no one wanted ; the same feeling that they had got to 
do what each eventually did do in the way of raising the 
standard of women's work ; the same intense joy and satis- 
faction in her appointed task when once she had established the 
right and power to do it. But with all these similarities, 
their outward circumstances, and in some respects their 
characters, were as different as they could possibly be. Florence 
Nightingale belonged to a rich family, and for years she had 
to carry on a constant warfare with them, for they put every 
possible obstacle in the way of her carrying out her heart's 
desire, treating her purpose to train herself as a hospital nurse 
as they might have treated a wish on her part to become a 
kitchenmaid. This battle with her family left its lasting mark 
on her. One doubts, on reading her life, if she ever really 
quite forgave them. After her return from the Crimea, when 
she was great and famous, they were at her feet ; but she let 
ten years go by without once visiting her home ; and when her 
family came to London she intimated to them that she would 
prefer it if they would stay in some other hotel than that in 
which she had established herself. In both these respects, 
wealth and family relations, Elizabeth Blackwell's lot was in 
complete contrast to Florence Nightingale's. The Blackwells 
were as poor as church mice ; but every sort of help which her 
family could give her in sympathy and encouragement, they 
generously and willingly gave. Florence Nightingale was one 
of two children, Elizabeth Blackwell was one of nine. Her 
very strong family affection finds expression in innumerable 
places in this book. Its first sentence expresses her conviction 
of the great advantage derived from being one of a large family 
group of healthy, active children, surrounded by wholesome 
influences. One of these wholesome influences was poverty — 
not poverty of grinding, debasing intensity, but none the less 
very real. 

When Florence Nightingale finally overcame the opposition 
of her family, her father set her up with a handsome income. 
Elizabeth Blackwell had no income, but she had a little store 
of " carefully hoarded earnings," and when she set out first 
of all in pursuit of her quest, her two young brothers drove 
her on the eleven days' journey along untravelled roads, 

x Introduction 

across unbridged rivers, over three lines of mountains, to her 
destination in North Carolina. How those three young people 
must have enjoyed themselves ! When after long effort and 
many disappointments she at last succeeded in gaining ad- 
mission to a medical school and in attaining her end, one of 
her brothers took part in the scene which attended her gradua- 
tion. His letters home about it all are quite delightful. "Our 
Sis came off with flying colours," he writes proudly. The 
final ceremony was held in the Presbyterian church, and she 
writes : " The other students walked in procession from the 
college to the church, but I went up with my brother and took 
my seat in the side aisle." 

The poverty of the Blackwell family had come upon them 
in an acute form in consequence of the death of their father. 
Mr. Blackwell must have been unsuccessful in business. He 
was in the sugar trade in Bristol and emigrated to the United 
States with his large family, fifteen persons in all, eight 
children and seven adults, in 1832, when Elizabeth, the third 
daughter, was eleven years old. Six years later, in 1838, he 
died and left a widow and nine children wholly unprovided 
for. The three elder children, daughters, took upon them- 
selves the maintenance of the family. This they did by starting 
a school for girls. There was not much of " the cushion and 
the slipper," not much even of " the peaceful and the studi- 
ous " in their strenuous life. The youngest of the three was 
seventeen, the other two probably not more than nineteen 
and twenty-one. But they worked together, educated the 
younger children, maintained their home, and gradually 
launched the brothers into various business and professional 
careers. They very early became, all of them, brothers and 
sisters alike, active sympathisers and participators in the 
movement for improving the education of women and obtain- 
ing for them a recognition of their political citizenship. One 
of the brothers married Lucy Stone, a pioneer in the Women's 
Suffrage movement in the United States. Their daughter, 
Miss Alice Stone Blackwell, is to this day Editor of the 
Women's Journal, Boston, the oldest and best of the Women's 
Suffrage papers in America. Another public interest which 
the family had in common was their detestation of slavery. 
Elizabeth saw slavery at close quarters when she took situa- 

Introduction xi 

tions in the Southern States, and liked it none the better on 
better acquaintance. She relates that on her complaining 
of the heat from a fire a negro girl was called and ordered 
to stand — a living fire-screen — between herself and the 

She conceived and planned her scheme of becoming a doctor 
of medicine and gaining a place on the Medical Register when 
she was absolutely penniless and her family were in the same 
position. She reckoned that her education would cost at 
least £600. How was she to get it ? A friend from whom she 
had expected substantial help failed her, and only offered a 
loan of £20. The school by this time had been given up and 
the brothers launched ; but Elizabeth took situations as a 
teacher in places where she thought she could, to some extent, 
prepare herself for her future medical studies as well as hoard 
up savings for the same purpose. The pioneer spirit was strong 
upon her ; like Rudyard Kipling's explorer, 

" A voice as bad as conscience rang interminable changes 
On one everlasting whisper day and night repeated." 

She had no natural inclination to study anatomy and 
physiology. The sight of a bullock's eye lying on a cushion 
of bloody fat sickened and disgusted her. " But a force 
stronger than myself, then and afterwards, seemed to lead 
me on : a purpose was before me which I must inevitably 
seek to accomplish." 

It must be remembered that at this time, the 'forties of the 
nineteenth century, there was no means whatever by which 
a woman could become a properly qualified doctor either in 
America or in England. Miss Blackwell consulted many people 
as to the best way of opening the bolted doors. They all 
replied that her plan was an excellent one, but that it was 
impossible of accomplishment. She retorted that if what she 
wished to do was good, it could not be impossible to do it. 
One of those whom she consulted, an excellent middle-aged 
Quaker doctor, seriously advised her to disguise her sex, cut 
her hair off and dress as a man, and study medicine in Paris. 
'' Elizabeth, it is no use trying. Thee cannot gain admission 
to these schools. Thee must go to Paris and don masculine 
attire to gain the necessary knowledge." But the suggestion 

xii Introduction 

of such a disguise did not tempt her for a moment. She de- 
manded a moral victory, the opening to herself and other women 
of new sources of knowledge and usefulness, and this could 
only be gained by straightforward means, without subterfuge 
or disguise. 

This book will tell, in its own inimitable way, how at last 
she conquered ; and in the Appendix by a fellow-student 
Dr. Stephen Smith, it is shown how her dignity and pure- 
mindedness transformed a rowdy and riotous class of young 
men into high-minded and industrious students, and changed 
the professor of anatomy from " a rollicking and jovial man," 
who illustrated his lectures by highly spiced stories, into a 
teacher who approached his subject with reverence and de- 
corum. The professor himself afterwards acknowledged that 
her presence had raised the whole tone of the class and placed 
it on a higher level. 

Women are often told, when they are seeking to enlarge 
their boundaries, either in education or in politics, that woman's 
sphere is home. And the dictum is as true as the usual applica- 
tion of it is false. What drew Elizabeth Blackwell to study 
medicine was her devotion to the home, her sense that a whole- 
some, clean home life is the foundation of national well-being. 
She wrote : " Now I have always felt a great reverence for 
maternity — the mighty creative power which more than any 
other human faculty seemed to bring womanhood nearer .the 
Divine. The first serious essay I ever attempted was on the 
Motherhood of the Race, or Spiritual Maternity — that great 
fact of universal love and service which is the formative 
principle striving to express itself in the lower physical mani- 

As her medical knowledge increased, her religious nature 
was profoundly stirred by a realisation of the connection 
between immorality and disease and the irreparable harm 
done by the false double standard of morals for men and 
women. To help to establish more worthy relations between 
men and women became one of the fixed objects of her life. 
" I will never," she wrote, " so help me God, be blind, in- 
different, or stupid in relation to this matter, as are most 
women. I feel specially called to act in this reform when I 
have gained wisdom for the task. The world can never be 

Introduction xm 

redeemed till this central relation of life is placed on a truer 

This resolution was fulfilled in her subsequent life : from 1869 
onwards, for seventeen years, she took an active part in 
opposition to the infamous Contagious Diseases Acts of 1866 
and 1868, until their repeal. She realised as few physicians 
have done the responsibility of her profession to watch over 
the cradle of the race and to see to it that children in all ranks 
should be well born, well nourished, and well educated. 

" The onward impulse to this great work would seem to 
be specially incumbent upon women physicians. . . . The 
physician knows that the natural family group is the first 
essential element of a progressive society. The degeneration 
of that element by the degradation of either of its two essential 
factors, the man or the woman, begins the ruin of a State. . . . 
It is well worth the efforts of a lifetime to have attained know- 
ledge which justifies an attack on the root of all evil — viz. 
the deadly atheism which asserts that because forms of evil 
have always existed in society, therefore they must always 
exist, and that the attainment of a high ideal is a hopeless 

Readers of this book will discover how Dr. Blackwell sowed 
the seeds of women's medical education in this country. She 
took part in its early stages, while she herself received a warm 
welcome and friendly encouragement from Sir James Paget 
and a few other distinguished members of her own profession. 

The professional view fashionable at the moment never 
undermined her ingrained independence of judgment. She 
opposed vivisection ; and in the face of an unpopularity 
which almost reached the borders of persecution she did not 
adopt the current medical practice of combating disease by 
the introduction of morbid matter into the blood of the human 
system. Her view was that the physician should combat 
disease by inculcating sanitary conditions of life, clean air, 
clean water, pure food, temperance, soberness, and chastity, 
rather than by the method of driving out one poison by another. 
In her constant insistence on the importance of sanitation she 
was wholly at one with Miss Nightingale, with whom she had 
formed a close friendship during an early visit to England . 
Indeed, to Florence Nightingale Dr. Blackwell attributed her 

xiv Introduction 

own awakening to the opinion she afterwards so vigorously 
held that " sanitation is the supreme goal of medicine and its 

Every student of the women's movement should add this 
book to his or her library. It is a human document of first-rate 

T _ T . M. G. Fawcett. 


The following is a list of Dy. Blackwell's chief works : — 

The Laws of Life, with Special Reference to the Physical Edu- 
cation of Girls, 1852; How to Keep a Household in Health — an 
Address, 1870 ; Counsel to Parents on the Moral Education 
of their Children in Relation to Sex (eighth edition, revised, 
1913) ; Medicine and Morality, Modem Review, 1881 ; The Human 
Element in Sex: being a Medical Enquiry into the Relation of 
Sexual Physiology to Christian Morality (second edition, enlarged, 
1884) ; Purchase of Women : the Great Economic Blunder, 1887 ; 
The Religion of Health, 1871 (third edition, 1889) ; On the Decay of 
Municipal Representative Government — A Chapter of Personal Ex- 
perience (Moral Reform League, 1888) ; The Influence of Women in 
the Profession of Medicine — Address given at the Opening of the 
Winter Session of the London School of Medicine for Women, 
1889 ; Christian Duty in Regard to Vice — A Letter Addressed to 
the Brussels International Congress against State Regulation of 
Vice (Moral Reform League, 1891) ; Christianity in Medicine — An 
Address Delivered before the Christotheosophical Society (Moral 
Reform League, 1891) ; Erroneous Method in Medical Education, 
etc. (Women's Printing Society, 1891) ; Why Hygienic Congresses 
Fail, 1892 ; Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to 
Women — Autobiographical Sketches (Longmans, 1895) ; Scientific 
Method in Biology, 1898 ; Essays in Medical Sociology, 2 vols. 
(Ernest Bell, 1902) ; The Moral Education of the Young in Relation 
to Sex (first edition, 1879 ; eighth edition, 1913) ; The Human 
Element in Sex (Churchill, 1884) (new edition, 1894). [See also F.W. 
Newman, The Corruption now called Neo-Malthusianism, with 
notes by E. B., 1889. 

Life : Miss Elizabeth Blackwell et les Femmes Medecins, par 
E. M. Mesnard, 1889. 

The following lectures or essays appear in the two volumes of 
" Medical Sociology," 1902; besides those mentioned above: 

Address at the opening of the New York Women's College (1869). 

Address to Working Women's College (1869). 

Introduction xv 

A Co-operative Proposal (1875) ; Rescue Work in Relation to 
Prostitution and Disease (1881) ; Christian Socialism (1882) ; Wrong 
and Right Methods (1883) ; Criticism of Gronlund's Co-operative 
Commonwealth of Women (1887) ; Neo-Malthusianism (1888) ; 
Prevention of Rabies (1891) ; Medical Responsibility (1897); The 
Present Position of the State Regulation of Vice in British India. 
See also Medical Times (May and June, 1849) ; Obituary notice in 
Times by Mrs. Fawcett ; Times, June 2, 1910; In Memory of 
Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and Dr. Emily Blackwell, January 25th, 
1 911; Academy of Medicine, New York, addresses at memorial 
meeting; articles in Chambers's Journal, 1858; (the first quotes 
Dr. Emily Blackwell's article on Elizabeth from the Englishwoman's 
Journal) ; article by Robert Chambers on her lectures in London, 





Family Life in England — Walks around Bristol — May Mis- 
sionary Meetings — A Vivid Reminiscence — Bristol Riots — 
Early Religious Impressions — Emigration to the United 
States — Schooldays in New York — Anti-slavery — Removal 
to Ohio — The Struggle of Life — Establishment of Boarding- 
school — The Wider Education of Women — Join the Epis- 
copal Church — General Harrison's Election — Transcenden- 
talism — The Rev. W. H. Channing's Congregation — Experi- 
ences in Henderson, Kentucky ..... 



The Medical Idea taking Shape — Lack of an Absorbing Object 
— Objection to falling in Love — Struggles with Disinclina- 
tion to the Study of Medicine — The Moral Aspect of the 
Work conquers — Resolution to earn Money for Study — 
Journey to Asheville, N.C. — Life in Asheville — Journey to 
Charleston, S.C. — Teaching at Mrs. du Pre's — Reading 
Medicine with Dr. S. H. Dickson — Sivori Concerts — Calhoun 
on States Rights — Dr. Warrington on Medical Study — 
Boarding-school Experiences — Summer at Aiken, S.C. . 21 



Searching for a College — Application to Colleges of Phila- 
delphia and New York — Interviews with Professors — 
Anatomical Study with Dr. Allen — Lectures at Dr. War- 
rington's — Application to other Schools — Joyful Result — 
Life at College — Residence in Blockley Almshouse — Gradu- 
ation .......... 47 


xviii Contents 



I849 PAGE 

Glimpse of the Black Country — Visit to Medical Institutions 
of Birmingham — Stay in London — Fashionable Life — 
Visits : to Dr. Carpenter, to Professor Owen, to St. 
Thomas's Hospital, to Dr. Wilkinson — Leave for Paris — 
Descriptive Letters— Interview with Lamartine — Interview 
with Police Official, with M. Louis — Difficulties to be over- 
come — Political Troubles in Paris — Entrance into La 
Maternite — Severe Life there — Friendship with the Interne 
— A Sortie and Hypnotic Siance — Serious Accident — Visit 
to Grafenberg — Life there — First Patient — Study in Lon- 
don — Admission to St. Bartholomew's — Visit to Rev. Dr. 
Leifchild — Hospital Experiences — Medical Scepticism 
awakens — Letter to Dr. S. H. Dickson — Social Relaxation 
— Woman's Rights Movement in the United States — Visit 
to Miss Nightingale — Visit to Lady Byron — Opening of the 
Great Exhibition — Anxious Discussion as to remaining in 
England — Farewell Visits — Last Days in England . . 78 



Settlement in New York — First Medical Consultation — 
Lectures on the Physical Education of Girls — Formation of 
Independent Dispensary — Quaker Help — Incorporation of 
the New York Infirmary, 1854 — Letters descriptive of 
Early Difficulties — Purchase of House — Adoption of Child 
— First Drawing-room Address — Sister resolves to study — 
Letters to her whilst in Europe — Amusing Experience with 
Dr. Simpson of Edinburgh — Joined by Dr. Emily Black- 
well in New York . . . . . . .154 



Letter from Paris — Acquaintance with Dr. Trelat of La Salpe- 
triere — Addresses given in England — Result of London 
Addresses — Circular for proposed Hospital — Letters from 
London — Registered as English Physician, 1859 — Reasons 
for returning to New York — Work there continued — Civil 

Contents xix 


War — Ladies' Sanitary Aid Association established — Inci- 
dents of the War — -Establishment of Infirmary Medical 
School — Letters from Miss Elizabeth Garrett — Sanitary 
Work of the New York Infirmary . . . . .172 



The Social Science Congress of 1869 — Medical Work — Health 

Work — Moral Work . . . . . . .194 

Supplementary Chapter ...... 205 

Appendix ......... 229 


It has often been urged that a record should be preserved of 
some of the first efforts by means of which the medical pro- 
fession of our day has been opened to women. 

In the belief that a large providential guidance may often 
be recognised in the comparatively trivial incidents of an 
individual life, this request of many friends is here complied 

The possession of old journals and of family correspondence 
gives accuracy to these details of past years. 

Hastings, 1895. 






It is a great advantage to have been born one of a 
large family group of healthy, active children, sur- 
rounded by wholesome influences. 

The natural and healthy discipline which children 
exercise upon one another, the variety of tastes and 
talents, the cheerful companionship, even the rivalries, 
misunderstandings, and reconciliations where free play 
is given to natural disposition, under wise but not too 
rigid oversight, iorm an excellent discipline for after- 

Being the third daughter in a family of nine brothers 
and sisters, who grew up to adult life with strong ties 
of natural affection, I enjoyed this advantage. 

My earliest recollections are connected with the 
house in Bristol, No. 1 Wilson Street, near Portman 
Square, to which the family removed from Counter- 
slip, where I was born, when I was about three years 
old. My childish remembrances are chiefly associated 
with my elder sisters, for being born between two baby 
brothers, who both died in infancy, I naturally followed 
my sisters' lead, and was allowed to be their playmate. 

Our Wilson Street home had the advantage of 
possessing a garden behind it, containing fine trees ; 

2 Pioneer Work 

and also a large walled garden opposite to it, with 
fruit trees and many flowers and shrubs, which 
afforded us endless delight and helped to create an 
early love of Nature. 

I cannot recall the sequel of incidents in this period 
of my life, for being so young when we moved to 
Wilson Street, the recollections of those early years 
are confused ; but some things stand out, distinctly 
impressed on the memory. 

My eldest sister had become possessed of a small 
telescope, and gazing through one of the garret 
windows, we thought we could spy the Duchess of 
Beaufort's woods over the tops of the houses. There 
was a parapet running along the front of the house, 
and we were seized with a desire for a more exten- 
sive view through the precious telescope than the 
garret window afforded, so a petition for liberty to 
go on to the roof was sent to papa in our names by 
my lively eldest sister. The disappointing answer 
soon came : 

Anna, Bessie, and Polly, Your request is mere folly, 
The leads are too high For those who can't fly. 
If I let you go there, I suppose your next prayer 
Will be for a hop To the chimney top ! 
So I charge you three misses, Not to show your phizes 
On parapet wall, Or chimney so tall. 
But to keep on the earth, The place of your birth. 
" Even so," says papa. " Amen," says mama. " Be it so," 
says Aunt Bar. 

The Aunt Barbara here referred to was a maiden 
sister of my father's, a somewhat stern though upright 
ruler of our youngest days ; but the dear father, with 
his warm affection, his sense of fun, and his talent for 
rhyming, represented a beneficent Providence to me 
from my earliest recollection. 

Another very vivid remembrance of that first period 
of childhood remains. My father was an active member 
of the " Independent " body, belonging to the Rev. 

Early Life in England 3 

Mr. Leifchild's Bridge Street congregation, and the 
May missionary meetings were a great event to us 
children, for, taking lunch with us, we sometimes pic- 
nicked in the gallery of the selected chapel, and divided 
our time between listening to thrilling stories of the 
missionaries and more physical pleasures. A number of 
these rather jolly divines often dined at our house, and 
the dinner party of the ministers was one of the inci- 
dents of the May meetings. There was a certain Mr. 
Burnet, of Cork, who used to keep the table in a roar. 
To be allowed to dine and listen at a side-table was 
indeed a treat. But on one occasion, my name, alas ! 
was in the Black Book, for some childish misdemeanour 
— I forget what ; but the punishment I well remember. 
I was sent up to the attics, instead of being allowed to 
join the dinner party. Upstairs in the dark I leaned 
over the banisters, watched the light stream out from 
the dining-room as the servants carried the dishes in 
and out, and listened to the cheerful buzz of voices and 
frequent peals of laughter as the door opened. I felt 
very miserable, with also a sense of guilt that I should 
have been so wicked as to let my name get into the 
Black Book, for I always accepted, without thought of 
resistance, the decrees of my superiors. The fact that 
those in authority were capable of injustice or stupidity 
was a perception of later growth. 

The impression made by this little incident on a 
childish mind was curiously shown on my revisiting 
Bristol, after an absence of nearly forty years. Wish- 
ing to see the scene of my early childhood, I called 
at the Wilson Street house, and its occupants kindly 
allowed me to enter my old home, the home which I 
remembered as so large, but which then looked so 
small. All was changed. The pleasant walled-in 
garden across the street, with its fine fruit trees, 
where we played for hours together with a neighbour's 
children, was turned into a carpenter's yard. The 
Jong garden behind the house, with its fine trees, and 

4 Pioneer Work 

stable opening into a back street, was built over ; 
but as I stood in the hall and looked up, I suddenly 
seemed to see a little childish face peeping wistfully 
over the banisters, and the whole scene of that dining- 
room paradise, from which the child was banished, 
rose vividly before me. 

But a stranger incident still occurred as I stood 
there. The sound of a latch-key was heard in the 
hall-door, and a figure, that I at once recognised as my 
father's, in a white flannel suit, seemed to enter and 
look smilingly at me. It was only a momentary mental 
vision, but it was wonderfully vivid ; and I then re- 
membered what I had utterly forgotten — forgotten 
certainly for forty years — that our father would some- 
times remain late at his sugar-house, and come home in 
the white flannel suit worn in the heated rooms of the 
refinery, letting himself into the house with a rather 
peculiar latch-key. 

Far clearer and more varied recollections are, how- 
ever, connected with the house in Nelson Street, to 
which we moved in 1824, and whence the family 
emigrated to New York in 1832. 

This comfortable family home, made by throwing 
two houses together, with its walled-in courtyard 
leading to the sugar refinery and my father's offices, 
was our town residence for eight very happy years. 
Here the group of brothers and sisters grew up to- 
gether, taking daily walks with our governess into the 
lovely environs of the then small town. We became 
familiar with the St. Vincent's Rocks and the Hot 
Wells, with Clifton Down and Leigh Woods, which 
were not built on then. The Suspension Bridge across 
the Avon was a thing of the future, and Cook's Folly 
stood far away on the wild Durdham Down. In 
another direction, Mother Pugsley's field, with its 
healing spring, leading out of Kingsdown Parade, was 
a favourite walk — for passing down the fine avenue of 
elms we stood at the great iron gates of Sir Richard 

Early Life in England 5 

Vaughan's place, to admire the peacocks, and then 
passed up the lane towards Redland, where violets 
grew on the grassy banks and natural curiosities could 
be collected. All these neighbourhoods were delight- 
fully free and open. Our governess encouraged our 
natural tastes, and the children's pennies were often 
expended in purchasing the landscape stones and 
Bristol diamonds offered for sale on Clifton Down. In 
still another direction, the " Brook," leading through 
pleasant fields to the distant Beaufort woods, had 
a never-ending charm. Daily, and often twice a 
day, the group of children with their governess 
wandered to these pleasant spots. In the summer 
time Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon gave endless 
seaside delights, and furnished a charming picture- 
gallery through all the subsequent wanderings of 
later life. 

During the last years of our Bristol life, a house 
at Olveston, about nine miles from town, was rented 
as a summer residence. This afforded fresh delight. 
Not only was the neighbourhood beautiful, and 
interesting with views of the Welsh mountains seen 
across the Severn from a high common near by, and 
the remains of an old abbey where wolves' heads were 
formerly taken as tribute still remained ; but the 
large, well-stocked garden was separated from the 
orchard by a rapid stream, over which two tiny bridges 
were thrown. 

To active, imaginative children this little domain 
was a source of never-ending enjoyment, whether 
cherishing pet animals, cultivating gardens, or playing 
Robinson Crusoe. When not staying in town we lived 
in this pleasant place, my father driving out from 
business daily. 

Only on rare occasions did any of the children go 
to school. Governesses and masters at home sup- 
plied the necessary book knowledge ; and a passion 
for reading grew up, which made the present of a 

6 Pioneer Work 

new book the greatest delight, and our own pocket- 
money was chiefly spent in buying books. 

Whilst the home life was thus rich and satisfying 
to children, echoes from the outside world came 
vaguely to us. The Bristol Riots took place during 
this period, and I remember watching the glare of 
incendiary fires from the heights round our country 
home. Also I vividly recall the " chairing " of Bright 
and Protheroe, with their red and yellow colours, and 
the illumination of the house and premises in Nelson 
Street, in honour of this Liberal victory. 

Our interest was early enlisted in the anti-slavery 
struggle then vigorously proceeding in England, and 
Wilberforce was an heroic name. The children volun- 
tarily gave up the use of sugar, as a " slave product," 
although it was only in later years, when living in 
America, that they threw themselves ardently into 
the tremendous fight. 

My father was an active member of the Independent 
body, and strongly opposed to the Established Church. 
" Rags of Popery " was a phrase early learned in a 
parrot-like way. But a very strong sense of religion 
was early implanted. The Bible was held in affection- 
ate reverence. Mrs. Sherwood's stories were favourite 
books ; and although we soon learned to skip the 
endless disquisitions on metaphysical dogmas which 
they contained, yet goodness, gentleness, and rever- 
ence were inseparably blended with breezy commons, 
lovely woods, clear streams, and waterfalls, from 
reading those charming story-books. Religion thus 
became associated with all that was beautiful in 
Nature and lovely in social life. 

Miiller and Craik, the founders of the Plymouth 
Brethren, were then beginning their work in Bristol, 
and I was much impressed by the earnest eloquence 
of the young Scotch evangelist. 

Life in New York 7 


The first eleven years of life had been passed under 
these happy influences of a healthy English home, 
when a great change of social surroundings took 
place, by my father's emigration to the United States 
with his large and increasing family. 

Early life in America. — In the month of August, 
1832, the family party of eight children and seven 
adults sailed from Bristol in the merchant ship 
" Cosmo," reaching New York in about seven weeks. 
The cholera was raging in England when we left ; 
we found New York comparatively deserted, from 
the same cause, when we arrived, and several steerage 
passengers died during the voyage ; but the family 
party remained in good health, and the ocean life 
furnished delightful experiences to the younger travel- 

The following six years were spent in New York 
and its suburb, Jersey City, across the bay. 

As daily pupil in an excellent school in New York, 
entering ardently into the anti-slavery struggle, 
attending meetings and societies, the years passed 
rapidly away. Our brothers being younger than the 
three elder sisters, habits of unconscious independence 
amongst the sisters were formed, which became a 
matter of course. 

Often in returning home from some evening meeting 
in New York the hourly ferry-boat would be missed, 
and we have crossed by the eleven or twelve o'clock 
boat, with no sense of risk or experience of annoyance. 
We became acquainted with William Lloyd Garrison 
and other noble leaders in the long and arduous anti- 
slavery struggle. Garrison was a welcome guest in our 
home. He was very fond of children, and would 
delight them with long repetitions of Russian poetry. 
But fierce antagonisms were already aroused by 
this bitter struggle ; and on one occasion the Rev. 

8 Pioneer Work 

Samuel H. Cox, a well-known Presbyterian clergy- 
man, and his family, sought refuge at our country 
house. This gentleman had stated in the pulpit that 
the Lord Jesus belonged to a race with darker skins 
than ours. At once the rumour went abroad that " Dr. 
Cox had called Jesus Christ a nigger," and it was 
resolved forthwith to lynch him ! So he came out to 
our country house on Long Island until the storm had 
blown over. 

Removal to Ohio, 1838. — When I was seventeen years 
old my father removed from New York with his family 
to Cincinnati, then a small but flourishing town, on the 
Ohio River, where a promising opening for the exten- 
sion of his business presented itself. 

We left New York full of hope and eager anticipa- 
tion. We were delighted with the magnificent scenery 
of the mountains and rivers as we crossed Pennsylvania 
by canal and stage (for it was before the time of rail- 
ways), and sailed down the noble Ohio River, then 
lined with forests. With eager enjoyment of new 
scenes, the prosperous little Western town was reached. 
It was picturesquely situated on a plateau, overlooking 
the river, and surrounded by pleasant hills. 

For a few months we enjoyed the strange incidents 
of early Western civilisation, so different from the 
older society of the East. 

Amongst other curious experiences, we attended a 
public Fourth of July picnic, held in the neighbouring 
woods. At this festival, the well-known " Come- 
outers " x — the Wattles brothers — were the chief 
speakers. Augustus, the elder, had established in 
the unsettled districts of the West what he called 
" Humanity's Barn," where any human being might 
find a night's shelter. His younger brother, John, 
was a chief speaker on this special occasion, and he 

1 A term then applied in the West to those who were dissatisfied 
with every phase of our social life ; they were generally noticeable 
for their long hair and peculiar mode of dressing. 

Life in Cincinnati 9 

concluded his speech with the following (to us) astound- 
ing sentiment, which was loudly applauded by the 
large assembly present — viz. : " Priests, Lawyers, and 
Doctors, the Trinity of the Devil ! " 

But all these curious experiences were suddenly 
checked by a catastrophe which compelled us to face 
the stern realities of life, in the strange land to which 
we had just removed, without friends or pecuniary 
resources. This was the sudden death of our earthly 

The hot, oppressive summer of that Western climate 
proved too much for the English constitution of our 
father. Within a few months of our arrival in Cincin- 
nati he died, after a short illness, from bilious fever, 
leaving his widow and nine children entirely un- 
provided for. 

This irreparable loss completely altered our lives. 
Recovering from the first effects of the stunning blow, 
we began to realise our position, and the heavy responsi- 
bilities henceforth devolving on us. The three elder 
sisters set zealously to work, and in time established a 
day and boarding school for young ladies ; whilst our 
eldest brother obtained a situation in the Court House 
of Cincinnati, under Major Gano. 

For the next few years, until the younger children 
grew up and were able gradually to share in the work, 
we managed to support the family and maintain a 

During this long struggle our minds rapidly opened 
to new views of social and religious duty in the un- 
trammelled social atmosphere of the West. 

The wider education of women was a subject then 
coming to the front ; and we three sisters threw our- 
selves with ardour into the public conferences held in 
Cincinnati on this subject, actively supporting our 
staunch champion Lawyer Johnston, who ably opposed 
the reactionary efforts of the Roman Catholic Arch- 
bishop Purcell in his endeavour to check the liberal 

io Pioneer Work 

tendencies of the age in relation to women's educa- 

About this time we had joined the Episcopal Church, 
being confirmed by the venerable Bishop Mcllvaine of 
Ohio. We became members of St. Paul's Church, of 
which the Rev. H. V. Johns was rector, entering 
heartily into its social life and teaching in its Sunday- 
school. We shared also in the stirring political contest 
which took place w T hen General Harrison defeated Van 
Buren, the " Locofoco " x candidate for the presidency. 
We attended political conventions and public meetings, 
and joined in singing political songs. It was a most 
exciting time. 

Some years later, the New England Transcendental 
movement spread to the West. It was the era of the 
Brook Farm experiment. We became acquainted 
with the very intelligent circle of New England society 
settled in Cincinnati, of which the Rev. W. H. Channing 
was the attractive centre. This gentleman, nephew of 
Dr. Ellery Channing of Boston, and father of our 
present parliamentary representative of the Kettering 
Division of Northamptonshire, was afterwards well 
known in Liverpool and in London. He was a man of 
rare moral endowments and eloquence as a speaker. 
His social influence on a limited circle was remarkable. 
Men of thought and active intelligence gathered round 
him. Men from New England who were then intel- 
lectual leaders of Cincinnati thought — such as James 
Perkins, C. P. Cranch, William Greene, and Judge 
Walker — formed a society of which he was the inspiring 
centre, a society which strongly attracted us. The 
Dial, and afterwards the Harbinger, with its an- 
ticipation of social reorganisation, were then appear- 
ing. The writings of Cousin, Carlyle, and Fourier were 
keenly studied, and Emerson was revolutionising 
American thought. I well remember the glowing face 

1 The popular name for the Democratic as opposed to the 
Republican candidate. 

Life in Kentucky 1 1 

with which I found Mr. Channing reading a book just 
received. " Sit down," he cried, " and listen to this ! ' 
and forthwith he poured forth extracts from Emerson's 

Notwithstanding our close and arduous teaching 
occupations, we eagerly shared in the active awaken- 
ing of thought that marked the time, and joined the 
Church of which Mr. Channing was minister. 

In the year 1842, our elder brothers entering into 
business, the boarding-school was given up, and I 
occupied myself with private pupils. Whilst still 
engaged in this way I was invited to take charge of 
a girls' district school, to be established in the town 
of Henderson, situated in the western part of Kentucky. 
The invitation seemed to promise useful remunerative 
work, so it was accepted. 

The region of Kentucky, where I then went, was a 
tobacco-growing district. I there gained my first 
practical experience of negro slavery and the crude 
civilisation of a Western slave state. 

This being my first separation from the family, a 
constant correspondence was kept up with home. 
Some extracts from these letters will give a curious 
glimpse of Kentucky rural life fifty years ago. 

Henderson: March 5, 184^. 
No doubt you've reproached me for my silence, after 
promising to write the second day from my arrival, but 
we had a very long trip, and it was not till the morning 
of the fourth da}' that I set my foot in the mud of Hen- 
derson. The " Chieftain " left Cincinnati at two o'clock 
Wednesday morning, and in seven hours we made twenty 
miles. All seemed lazy on board the boat. The first 
night we laid up, on account of the fog ; the second we 
spent at Louisville, the third at Evansville ; we had on 
board a quantity of green wood, and stopped continually 
to take in fresh supplies. The captain, a fat, red-faced, 
good-natured fellow, went to sleep, or took matters very 
easily. As we entered the canal at Louisville he was 

12 Pioneer Work 

standing on the hurricane-deck, at the head of the boat, 
apparently fast asleep ; the helmsman steered imme- 
diately for the rough stone wall of the canal, and with a 
tremendous shock smashed in a great deal of the wood- 
work in the fore part of the boat. The captain gave one 
jump, wrung his hands, spun round, and went to sleep 
again. In the morning I went with Mr. S. into Louisville ; 
there I got my watch-key mended (a providential piece of 
foresight, for 'twould have been impossible here), bought 
various little things, and saw also the famed Kentucky 
giant, and bade good-bye to Louisville, having been five 
hours passing through the canal. One afternoon Mr. S. 
was playing on his guitar on the side deck, when a great 
rough-looking boy made his appearance, and addressed 
me : " The ladies sent me to tell you to bring your man 
into the cabin, that he may sing for them." I translated 
for the man's benefit, and a good hearty laugh we had. 
One of Mr. S.'s favourite amusements was to stand on the 
hurricane-deck with me and joke about my village; every 
two or three dirty-looking shanties that we passed he would 
tell me to look out, for he had a presentiment that we 
were reaching Henderson. I grew almost nervous as we 
were approaching the situation, for really all the little 
towns we had passed looked so straggling, dingy, and 
uninteresting that it appeared to me almost impossible 
for a decent individual to inhabit them ; you may imagine 
how I felt standing, for the last time, on a bright Satur- 
day morning, with my last friend and remaining piece of 
civilisation, awaiting my destiny. The clerk approached. 
" Madam, we have reached Henderson " ; the boat turns, I 
give one glance, three dirty old frame buildings, a steep 
bank covered with mud, some negroes and dirty white 
people at the foot, and behold all that I could see of my 
future home. I looked resolutely down, exclaiming (to 
my French friend), " Laide, vilain, horrible ! " but the boat 
touched and I was hurried off. Upon my inquiring for 
Dr. Wilson, a rough-looking man presented his arm, 
three negroes seized my trunks, to " tote them up," the 
steamboat shoved off, and I followed my companion — - 
holding his hand to prevent myself slipping down the 
bank. In the middle of the mud I stopped to see the 
last of our friend and civilisation ; we waved our hand- 

Life in Kentucky 13 

kerchiefs till the boat was out of sight, and then, gulping 
down my tears and giving a few convulsive laughs, we 
proceeded on our way through a dirty, little, straggling, 
country village ; we stopped before a small frame house, 
entered a low, shabbily-furnished room, where a poorly- 
dressed, sleepy-looking woman was introduced as Mrs. 
Wilson. I longed to be shown to my bedroom, for my 
head was in a perfect whirl, but I had to sit down and 
talk about I know not what At last I ventured to request 
permission to go upstairs ; the daughter showed me up 
old, crooked, creaking steps, and opened the bedroom 
door. How shall I describe it ? A little window looking 
upon the side of a house not two yards from it, the rough 
board walls daubed with old whitewash, the bed, the 
furniture, dirty, covered with litter and dust, all gloomy 
and wretched. My disposition to cry vanished at once, 
tears froze far below zero ; I smiled on my companion, 
who stood examining me, and asked to have my trunks 
carried up. This request brought my hostess, who with 
some confusion told me, " This was not to be my home, 
but that her niece was gone to make some preparations 
for my reception and would take me there in the evening, 
she being perfectly aware that I could not live in such a 
hole." The word " hole " revived me ; the inhabitants 
of Henderson were, then, not perfectly blind ; they had 
some little consciousness that there were degrees of 
decency ; there was a small ray of comfort in that little 
word " hole." I descended, and soon found that every- 
thing proceeded with real Kentucky slowness. Begin to 
teach on Monday ! This was utterly impossible ! The idea 
seemed to them preposterous, the schoolhouse was hardly 
selected, the windows were broken, the floor and walls 
filthy, the plaster fallen off, the responsible trustees not 
appointed, the scholars unnotified of my arrival ; no, 'twas 
impossible, I must wait a week ; but the idea of spending 
an unnecessary week in Henderson was insupportable, 
so I urged and argued, and persuaded and ran about, till 
a man was sent to mend the windows, and another to 
clean the floor, and the Responsibles came to visit me, 
and promised to collect the scholars, and on Monday I 
was to begin. Then, to avoid the necessity of having to sit 
and repeat wearisome inanities, I set out, accompanied 

14 Pioneer Work 

by the daughter, to view the so-called city. All looked 
dreary on a dull winter day — in fact, Henderson is a very 
small, very uninteresting country place, though, it must 
be confessed, the view of it from the river is the worst of 
all. Towards evening I took a look at my schoolhouse ; 
nothing was done but mischief. The old negro had flooded 
the muddy floor with water and gone away, leaving the 
floor like the bed of the Nile ; 'twas now too late to get 
the place into order. The people are very pious, nothing 
could be done Sunday ; so, cursing the laziness of a slave 
society, I resigned myself to fate, and followed my young 
hostess — a tall, graceful, sleepy-eyed girl — to my new 

A substantial, rough brick house opened its enormous 
gates to receive me. I entered a small, high-ceilinged 
bedroom, where I was to make one of four, and then my 
conductress glided away to bring her mother and two 
other sisters. The sight of the sisters somewhat consoled 
me, because I immediately hoped to be able to teach for 
my board. The mother received me with good-nature, 
and ever since I've been here the whole family have 
treated me with kindness to the extent of their know- 
ledge, one portion of which is never to leave me alone, 
and I, who so love a hermit life for a good part of the 
day, find myself living in public, and almost losing my 
identity. Well, Sunday, and a refreshing Presbyterian 
sermon, of an eternity's duration, I must leave to your 
imagination. Monday I ran about, and at last seated 
myself in Dr. Wilson's parlour, where I received a visit 
from one of the Responsibles, a fussy, pompous little 
doctor, who talked grandly, whereupon I talked grandlier, 
upon which he told me this was an epoch in the history 
of Henderson. Then in came the other Responsibles, 
when I spoke and they rejoined, and the little doctor 
called to order, and after a wonderful quantity of fuss 
the schoolhouse was pitched upon, put into something 
like order, and on Tuesday morning I took my seat at 
the head of fourteen girls, and organised my school. 

March 20, 1844. — So far as I can learn I give general 
satisfaction, but I believe the people are a little afraid of 
me, particularly when they see me read German (for I 
often forget myself with Hoffman). I am amused to 

Life in Kentucky 15 

learn accidentally how I have been talked over in every 
direction, and my teeth particularly admired in peculiarly 
Kentucky style. " Well, I do declare she's got a clean 
mouth, hasn't she ! " — white teeth seeming remarkable 
where all use tobacco ! All the chief people of the place 
have called on me, which plagues me dreadfully, as I 
have to return the calls, and find them in the lowest 
degree uninteresting, with nothing to do but knit, nothing 
to hear but their own petty affairs. Then they are most 
unmerciful in the length of visit. If they live in what is 
called out of town, nothing will satisfy but giving up the 
afternoon, taking tea, and sleeping. The sleeping I have 
victoriously fought against, but the rest I have sometimes 
been betrayed into, and have sat hour after hour striving 
dreadfully to take an interest in the gossip, swallowing 
yawns until my eyes watered, and then suddenly awaking 
out of a long reverie on all of you to the consciousness 
that everybody is sitting in an awkward silence, and that 
it is absolutely necessary to say something. The first 
evening I so spent I was rejoicing at the prospect of 
escape, for the watches had been pulled out, and it was 
declared late (half-past eight), when I was taken quite 
by surprise by seeing the Episcopal clergyman who was 
present seat himself by the table with a large Bible before 
him, wipe his spectacles, and give a preparatory hem ! 
I gave an inward groan, sat down again and looked with a 
long face steadily at the fire, whilst a north-wester was 
blowing all the time through a crack of the door into 
my ear. As we knelt down, and I looked round at the 
funny kneeling figures and up at the walls of a real log 
cabin, and on one side at the immense wood fire, it all 
seemed so very odd that I almost began to doubt my own 

We have had miserable weather for more than a week. 
The house, though substantially built of brick, with a 
deep verandah all round, is dreadfully cold ; the two 
immense brick-paved halls, which cross in the centre, 
have great doors almost always open. The four rooms 
occupying the four corners, in one of which we sleep, 
have chimneys, all of which smoke. Then none of the 
windows seem to fit, and there are holes in the wall where 
the plaster has been knocked off, and will be replaced, 

1 6 Pioneer Work 

I suppose, next doomsday. Tis pretty much the same in 
the schoolhouse. There, one very cold day, I drew my 
feet on the bar of my chair, then I put on my worsted gloves, 
then drew on my blanket shawl ; and, finally, finding a 
great blowing about my head from everywhere in general, 
I put on my hood ! . . . 

April 4. — The young ladies and gentlemen of Hender- 
son are most contemptible walkers, opening wide their 
eyes at the idea of two or three miles, and telling doleful 
tales of blistered feet, wild bulls, and furious dogs, of 
which latter there is certainly a larger supply than at 
any place I have ever seen. Every negro has his pet 
dog, the more savage the better, and all the masters 
follow their example. 

I had a good fright from some of them yesterday, as I 
was returning from school. I'd no sooner crossed the 
steps that lead into the lawn than an enormous brindled 
fellow, with black, devilish face, sprang furiously towards 
me, followed by two others, barking and showing their 
horrid jaws. Now, thought I, my time has come ! I 
hesitated whether I should endeavour to tear their mouths 
open, or jump upon them and crush them, should the 
worst arrive. I involuntarily thought of A., who has a 
horror of dogs, and then called out in my blandest tones, 
" Poor fellows ; po-or fellows ! " The voice had the 
desired effect, and instead of having to fight Samson-wise, 
the gentlemen contented themselves with jumping upon 
me and knocking my dinner-tray out of my hand. I am 
in general quite a favourite with the canine race, and have 
not the slightest fear of them, which the ladies here can 
hardly believe, as their life is almost a torment to them 
for fear of dogs and cows ; indeed, I would always sooner 
meet a dozen dogs than one negro, and the only uneasiness 
I have in taking my long, solitary walks proceeds from 
this ; for of all brutes the human brute is the worst, and 
I never meet one in a lonely place without feeling a sudden 

I dislike slavery more and more every day ; I suppose 
I see it here in its mildest form, and since my residence 
here I have heard of no use being made of the whipping- 
post, nor any instance of downright cruelty. (It was 
really meant as an act of hospitality when they placed a 

Life in Kentucky \y 

little negro girl as a screen between me and the fire the 
other day !) But to live in the midst of beings degraded 
to the utmost in body and mind, drudging on from earliest 
morning to latest night, cuffed about by everyone, scolded 
at all day long, blamed unjustly, and without spirit enough 
to reply, with no consideration in any way for their feelings, 
with no hope for the future, smelling horribly, and as ugly 
as Satan — to live in their midst, utterly unable to help 
them, is to me dreadful, and what I would not do long for 
any consideration. Meanwhile I treat them civilly, and 
dispense with their services as much as possible, for which 
I believe the poor creatures despise me. The mistresses 
pique themselves on the advantageous situation of their 
blacks ; they positively think them very well off, and 
triumphantly compare their position with that of the poor 
in England and other countries. I endeavour, in reply, 
to slide in a little truth through the small apertures of 
their minds, for were I to come out broadly with my 
simple, honest opinion I should shut them up tight, arm 
all their prejudices, and do ten times more harm than good. 
I do long to get hold of someone to whom I can talk frankly ; 
this constant smiling and bowing and wearing a mask 
provokes me intolerably ; it sends me internally to the 
other extreme, and I shall soon, I think, rush into the 
woods, vilify Henderson, curse the Whigs, and rail at the 
Orthodox, whose bells have been going in a fruitless effort 
at revivals ever since I have been here. Not, mind, mother, 
that I really have such diabolical feelings against the poor 
Orthodox in general and particular, but I have an intense 
longing to scream, and everyone here speaks in a whisper. 
My school, I think I have told you, is limited to twenty- 
one ; it has been full for some time, and many have been 
refused. The girls are a good, pleasant set, much more 
gentle than in Cincinnati, and all with faces that seem 
familiar to me ; in fact, I have hardly seen a face in Hen- 
derson that does not torment me with a likeness to some 
former acquaintance. My school hours for the present 
are from nine to three. At half-past twelve I ring my 
bell, when there is a general rush and devouring. I uncover 
the tin knife-box devoted to me, and find regularly inside 
a saucer with three or four little slices of ham, a roll, a 
piece of corn bread, a cup of cream, and a raw egg ; the 

1 8 Pioneer Work 

latter I throw into the hot ashes, and when it has split 
with a loud report I take it out, and, peeling off the coating 
of burnt egg and ashes, am generally happy enough to 
find a little clean piece in the middle, which I swallow, 
and burn my throat. Then I put on my hood and gloves, 
and walk up and down under a tree in front of the 
schoolhouse, eating the remainder, and endeavouring not 
to think of you all, as I find it does not assist the digestion. 

I used to look sentimentally to one corner of the heavens 
and fancy I saw you all, when one evening, to my amaze- 
ment, I beheld the sun set in that corner, so I had to turn 
right round and look in the opposite direction, anathematis- 
ing the river for being so stupid as to wind, and convert 
the sublime imaginings of a forlorn damsel into a ridiculous 

I have at present four music scholars, and one out-of- 
school French, but two go for boarding. I teach ten 
hours, three days of the week, and wish the other three 
were similarly filled ; but it is small remuneration for such 
an outlay of breath, and as soon as I have the opportunity 
I shall fly off to some other point of the compass, where at 
any rate I may learn myself while teaching others. Car- 
lyle's ncLme has never even been distantly echoed here, 
Emerson is a perfect stranger, and Channing, I presume, 
would produce a universal fainting-fit. 


I was delighted to receive my box last Sunday, the 
1 2th ; the things do admirably, the dresses I like exceed- 
ingly, they are both very pretty. 

The people here begin to interest me more than they 
did at first ; all continue very kind, and I think well 
satisfied. When I came here, I did not care one straw 
what was thought of my personal appearance, I dressed 
entirely from a principle of self-respect ; now I some- 
times dress for others, and feel a slight satisfaction if the 
glass tells me I shall not scare people. Is not this a good 
sign ? . . . Do not imagine I am going to make myself a 
whole just at present ; the fact is I cannot find my other 
half here, but only about a sixth, which would not do. 
There are two rather eligible young males here, whose 
mothers have for some time been electioneering for wives ; 

Life in Kentucky 19 

one tall, the other short, with very pretty names, of good 
family, and with tolerable fortune, but unfortunately one 
seems to me a dolt, the other, well, not wise, so I keep them 
at a respectful distance, which you know I am quite 
capable of doing. 

There is a spot called Lovers' Grove, about three- 
quarters of a mile from the town, a sweet place on the 
river bank, encircled by trees, with a hill behind, and a 
delightful walk by the river-side connecting it with the 
" city." This used to be my Sunday afternoon stroll, but 
unfortunately it is the favourite resort of the beaux and 
belles of Henderson, who, during the summer, after after- 
noon church, regularly promenade thither, in groups of 
four or five, and meet accidentally on purpose. Here they 
stroll about, recline on the grass, watch the steamboats, 
flirt a very little (it being Sunday), and carve one another's 
names, and sentimental verses, on the unfortunate locust 
trees. I had many offers of an escort thither and as many 
beaux as I might desire. I went once or twice, but at 
last got dreadfully tired of it, so while my party was 
busily engaged round a tree, I started off on a good brisk 
walk home, where, some time after, the others arrived, in 
some consternation to know how or why I had so suddenly 
vanished. I laughed at them and their sentimental doings, 
and they have not invited me since. 

I had a very pleasant drive yesterday to make a bridal 
call on the Presbyterian minister, who has been quite 
polite. The country reminded me in some parts of our 
charming Staten Island drives, though the scenery here 
will not, of course, compare with that little gem. 

The people of Henderson were all very friendly to 
me personally, and my relations always pleasant with 
them ; but the injustice of the state of society made 
a gradually deepening impression on my mind. The 
inhabitants lived in constant fear of an outbreak 
among the slaves. Women did not dare to walk in 
the pleasant woods and country around the village, 
for terror of runaway slaves. Painful social contrasts 
constantly forced themselves on my notice. I well 
remember sitting with my hostess, who was reclining 

20 Pioneer Work 

in her rocking-chair, on the broad, shaded verandah, 
one pleasant Sunday morning, listening to the distant 
church bells and the rustling of the locust trees, when 
the eldest daughter, a tall, graceful girl, dressed for 
Sunday, in fresh and floating summer drapery, came 
into the verandah on her way to church. Just at that 
moment a shabby, forlorn-looking negro in dirty rags 
approached the verandah ; he was one of the slaves 
working in the tobacco plantation. His errand was 
to beg°the mistress to let him have a clean shirt on 
that Sunday morning. The contrast of the two figures, 
the young lady and the slave, and the sharp reprimand 
with which his mistress from her rocking-chair drove 
the slave away, left a profound impression on my 
mind. Kind as the people were to me personally, the 
sense of justice was continually outraged ; and at the 
end of the first term of engagement I resigned the 



The idea taking shape. — When I returned from 
the Kentucky engagement the family had removed 
to the pleasant suburb of Walnut Hills, where the 
well-known Lane Theological Seminary, under the 
direction of the Beechers and Professor Stowe, was 
situated. This healthy place, with its intellectual 
resources, became the home for many years. I found 
the family sharing a delightful house with the Rev. 
Mr. and Mrs. Vail, to whom it belonged, who, with their 
charming daughter and the professor and elder students 
of the seminary, formed a very intelligent society. 

It was during the residence of the family on Walnut 
Hills that the noble-hearted woman, Lucy Stone, 
became the wife of an elder brother of mine. 

My brothers were engaged in business, my sisters 
variously occupied, the family life was full and active, 
and for a while I keenly enjoyed the return home. 
But I soon felt the want of a more engrossing pursuit 
than the study of music, German, and metaphysics, 
and the ordinary interests that social life presented. 

It was at this time that the suggestion of studying 
medicine was first presented to me by a lady friend. 
This friend finally died of a painful disease, the delicate 
nature of which made the methods of treatment a 
constant suffering to her. She once said to me : " You 
are fond of study, have health and leisure ; why not 
study medicine ? If I could have been treated by a 
lady doctor, my worst sufferings would have been 
spared me." But I at once repudiated the suggestion 


22 Pioneer Work 

as an impossible one, saying that I hated everything 
connected with the body, and could not bear the sight 
of a medical book. 

This was so true, that I had been always foolishly 
ashamed of any form of illness. When attacked many 
years before by intermittent fever, I desperately tried 
to walk off the deadly chill ; and when unable to do 
so, shut myself up alone in a dark room till the stage 
of fever was over, with a feeling that such subjection 
to disease was contemptible. As a schoolgirl I had 
tried to harden the body by sleeping on the floor at 
night, and even passing a couple of days without food, 
with the foolish notion of thus subduing one's physical 
nature. I had been horrified also during my school- 
days by seeing a bullock's eye resting on its cushion of 
rather bloody fat, by means of which one of the pro- 
fessors wished to interest his class in the wonderful 
structure of the eye. Physiology, thus taught, 
became extremely distasteful to me. My favourite 
studies were history and metaphysics, and the very 
thought of dwelling on the physical structure of 
the body and its various ailments filled me with 

So I resolutely tried for weeks to put the idea 
suggested by my friend away ; but it constantly 
recurred to me. 

Other circumstances forced upon me the necessity 
of devoting myself to some absorbing occupation. I 
became impatient of the disturbing influence exercised 
by the other sex. I had always been extremely sus- 
ceptible to this influence. I never remember the time 
from my first adoration, at seven years old, of a little 
boy with rosy cheeks and flaxen curls when I had not 
suffered more or less from the common malady — 
falling in love. But whenever I became sufficiently 
intimate with any individual to be able to realise what 
a life association might mean, I shrank from the 
prospect, disappointed or repelled. 

The Moral Aspect of Medicine 23 

I find in my journal of that time the following 
sentence, written during an acute attack : — 

I felt more determined than ever to become a physician, 
and thus place a strong barrier between me and all ordi- 
nary marriage. I must have something to engross my 
thoughts, some object in life which will fill this vacuum 
and prevent this sad wearing away of the heart. 

But the struggle with natural repugnance to the 
medical line of life w r as so strong that I hesitated to 
pass the Rubicon, and fought many a severe battle 
with myself on the subject. 

At this time I had not the slightest idea of how to 
become a physician, or of the course of study necessary 
for this purpose. As the idea seemed to gain force, 
however, I wrote to and consulted with several 
physicians, known to my family, in various parts of 
the country, as to the possibility of a lady becoming a 

The answers I received were curiously unanimous. 
They all replied to the effect that the idea was a good 
one, but that it was impossible to accomplish it ; that 
there was no way of obtaining such an education for 
a woman ; that the education required was long and 
expensive ; that there were innumerable obstacles in 
the way of such a course ; and that, in short, the idea, 
though a valuable one, was impossible of execution. 

This verdict, however, no matter from how great an 
authority, w r as rather an encouragement than other- 
wise to a young and active person who needed an 
absorbing occupation. 

If an idea, I reasoned, were really a valuable one, 
there must be some way of realising it. The idea of 
winning a doctor's degree gradually assumed the 
aspect of a great moral struggle, and the moral fight 
possessed immense attraction for me. 

This moral aspect of the subject was increased by a 
circumstance which made a very strong impression on 

24 Pioneer Work 

me. There was at that time a certain Madame Restell 
flourishing in New York. This person was a noted 
abortionist, and known all over the country. She was 
a woman of great ability, and defended her course in 
the public papers. She made a large fortune, drove a 
fine carriage, had a pew in a fashionable church, and 
though often arrested, was always bailed out by her 
patrons. She was known distinctively as a " female 
physician," a term exclusively applied at the time to 
those women who carried on her vile occupation. 

Now, I had always felt a great reverence for mater- 
nity — the mighty creative power which more than any 
other human faculty seemed to bring womanhood 
nearer the Divine. 

The first serious essay I ever attempted was on " The 
Motherhood of the Race, or Spiritual Maternity " — 
that great fact of universal love and service which is 
the formative principle striving to express itself in the 
lower physical manifestations. 

The gross perversion and destruction of motherhood 
by the abortionist filled me with indignation, and 
awakened active antagonism. That the honourable 
term " female physician " should be exclusively applied 
to those women who carried on this shocking trade 
seemed to me a horror. It was an utter degradation of 
what might and should become a noble position for 

Being at that time a reader of Swedenborg, and 
strongly impressed by his vivid representations of the 
unseen world, I finally determined to do what I could 
to " redeem the hells," and especially the one form of 
hell thus forced upon my notice. 

My journals of those days, 1845, are full of the 
various difficulties encountered as this determination 
took root. 

I find it written : — 

Doctor Muzzey (a well-known Cincinnati doctor) was 
horrified at the idea of a woman's going to the Parisian 

Doubts and Difficulties 25 

schools, which he visited some years ago ; and he declares 
that the method of instruction was such that no American 
or English lady could stay there six weeks. 

Mrs. Beecher Stowe thought, after conversation with 
Professor Stowe, that my idea was impracticable, though 
she confessed, after some talk, that if carried out it might 
be highly useful. She also spoke of the strong prejudice 
which would exist, which I must either crush or be crushed 
by. I felt a little disappointed at her judgment and the 
hopelessness of all help from Dr. M. I resolved to write 
to Dr. Cox (our family physician when we lived in the 
East), as a last hope for the present. 

Sunday, May 4. — I read my letter to Dr. Cox to Mrs. 
Vail, who sympathises strongly with my desire. She 
stated Dr. Peck's opinion of the impossibility of a lady 
studying in Paris, but asserts that the most thorough 
education can be obtained in private. I will not, however, 
make up my mind too hastily on so important a subject. 

Wednesday, 14th. — I mentioned my plan to Mr. Perkins. 
He talked it over a little, and then said with a bright face : 
" I do wish you would take the matter up, if you have the 
courage — and you have courage, I know." So invigorating 
was his judgment, that I felt at the moment as if I could 
conquer the world. He offered with real interest to obtain 
the opinion of the Boston physicians, to talk with Dr. 
Avery, and lent me a book of Jackson's Memoirs which 
gives much information relative to the French schools. 

But a little later it is written : — 

I felt cold and gloomy all day ; read in Jackson's 
Memoirs, and felt almost disheartened at the immensity of 
the field before me. I hesitate as if I were about to take 
the veil, but I am gradually coming up to the resolution. 

Again it is written : — 

I heard an admirable sermon from Mr. Giles, an English 
minister, on Christian worship ; very logical, full of 
poetry, some of the sentences so perfect that I held my 
breath till they were finished. I thought much on my future 
course, and turned for aid to that Friend with whom I 

26 Pioneer Work 

am beginning to hold true communion. It cannot be 
my fancy, Jesus Christ must be a living Spirit, and have 
the power of communicating with us, for one thought 
towards Him dispels all evil, and earnest, continued 
thought produces peace unspeakable. 

May 20. — Harry brought me home last evening a letter 
from Dr. Cox ; my hand trembled as I took it. It was 
kind, giving the necessary information, but perfectly 
non-committal as to advice. I carried the letter over this 
morning to the lady friend who had promised to help me 
pecuniarily. I made up my mind fully to undertake the 
study if she fulfilled her promise, and already I felt separated 
from the rest of womankind ; I trembled and hoped 
together. But alas for promises and plans ; she offered 
to lend me ioo dollars — when I am told that I shall want 
3000 dollars ! I did not express my disappointment, 
but asked who would be likely to assist further. She 
did not know, but thought the plan I had suggested of 
teaching, and laying up money for a few }"ears, decidedly 
the best. 

Thrown thus entirely on my own resources, I finally 
resolved to accept a teacher's position in a school 
in North Carolina, where, whilst accumulating money 
for future use, I could also commence a trial of medical 
study, for the Rev. John Dickson, who was principal of 
the school, had previously been a doctor. 

My old diary of those years, still existent, vividly 
portrays the anxiety and painful effort with which I 
left the family circle and ordinary social life, and took 
the first step in my future medical career. I felt that I 
was severing the usual ties of life, and preparing to act 
against my strongest natural inclinations. But a force 
stronger than myself then and afterwards seemed to 
lead me on ; a purpose was before me which I must 
inevitably seek to accomplish. 

My own family showed the warmest sympathy with 
my plans. It was before the time of railways ; the 
roads through Kentucky were little travelled ; several 
rivers had to be forded, and three lines of mountains to 

Life in North Carolina 27 

be crossed. Two of my brothers determined to drive 
me to my unknown destination amongst the mountains 
of North Carolina. So the carriage was packed with 
books and comforts for the eleven days' journey, and 
on June 16, 1845, with loving good-byes and some tears, 
in spite of strong efforts to restrain them, I left home 
for Ashevillc, North Carolina, to begin preparation for 
my unknown career. 

I find interesting details of that long drive, when 
every day took me farther and farther away from all 
that I loved. We forded more than one rapid river, 
and climbed several chains of the Alleghanies in 
crossing through Kentucky and Tennessee into North 
Carolina. The wonderful view from the Gap of Clinch 
Mountain, looking down upon an ocean of mountain 
ridges spread out endlessly below us, and seen in the 
fresh light of an early morning, remains to this day as 
a wonderful panorama in memory. 

We at last reached our destination — viz. the school 
and parsonage of the Rev. John Dickson (formerly a 
physician), where I was to teach music. The situation 
of Asheville, entirely surrounded by the Alleghanies, 
was a beautiful plateau, through which the rapid 
French Broad River ran. 

I must here note down an experience occurring at 
that time, unique in my life, but which is still as real 
and vivid to me as when it occurred. 

I had been kindly welcomed to my strange new 
home, but the shadow of parting with the last links 
to the old life was upon me. The time of parting came. 
My two brothers were to leave on their return journey 
•early on the following morning. Very sadly at night 
we had said farewell. I retired to my bedroom and 
gazed from the open window long and mournfully at 
the dim mountain outlines visible in the starlight — 
mountains which seemed to shut me away hopelessly 
from all I cared for. Doubt and dread of what might 
t>e before me gathered in my mind. I was overwhelmed 

28 Pioneer Work 

with sudden terror of what I was undertaking. In an 
agony of mental despair I cried out, " Oh God, help 
me, support me ! Lord Jesus, guide, enlighten me ! " 
My very being went out in this yearning cry for Divine 
help. Suddenly, overwhelmingly, an answer came. A 
glorious presence, as of brilliant light, flooded my soul. 
There was nothing visible to the physical sense ; but 
a spiritual influence so joyful, gentle, but powerful, 
surrounded me that the despair which had over- 
whelmed me vanished. All doubt as to the future, all 
hesitation as to the rightfulness of my purpose, left 
me, and never in after-life returned. I knew that, how- 
ever insignificant my individual effort might be, it 
was in a right direction, and in accordance with the 
great providential ordering of our race's progress. 

This is the most direct personal communication 
from the Unseen that I have ever consciously had ; 
but to me it is a revealed experience of Truth, a direct 
vision of the great reality of spiritual existence, as 
irresistible as it is incommunicable. 

During my few months' stay in this friendly house- 
hold I borrowed medical books from the Doctor's 
library, for my purpose of becoming a physician was 
known and approved of. 

On one occasion a fellow-teacher laughingly came 
to me with a dead cockchafer, which had been smoth- 
ered between her pocket-handkerchiefs, and offered it 
to me as a first subject for dissection. I accepted the 
offer, placed the insect in a shell, held it with a hair- 
pin, and then tried with my mother-of-pearl-handled 
penknife to cut it open. But the effort to do this was 
so repugnant that it was some time before I could 
compel myself to make the necessary incision, which 
revealed only a little yellowish dust inside. The battle 
then fought, however, was a useful one. In my later 
anatomical studies I never had so serious a repugnance 
to contend with. 

The winter passed pleasantly away in beautiful 

Life in North Carolina 29 

Asheville. I was in friendly relations with all around 
me. In my leisure time I studied in the pleasant 
grove which connected the school with the church, 
rejoicing in the ever-changing mountain outline visible 
through the trees. The Harbinger with its bright 
visions of associated life, came regularly to me, and 
nurtured that faith in co-operation as the necessary 
future of society which has become one of my articles 
of faith, my chief regret at this time being the stoppage 
of my attempt to teach coloured children to read, as 
this was forbidden by the laws of North Carolina ! 

The following letters describe the life in North 
Carolina : — 

Asheville : June 29, 1S45. 
Dear M., — My first impressions of Asheville are de- 
cidedly pleasant. I find the Rev. Mr. D. a well-educated, 
intelligent man, beloved by all, and regarded quite as a 
father by all his pupils. He reminds me continually of 
Mr. L. in the shortness of his legs and the activity of 
mind and body, in superficiality of thought, and obliging 
social disposition. Mrs. D. is decidedly lovable, quite a 
little lady, ever cheerful, kind, and intelligent, performing 
her numerous duties like a small, true Christian. . . . 

Asheville : 1845. 

Dear H., — I am very glad to find that you have the 
feelings of a gentleman, that though you would not pro- 
mise to write to me, you perform, which is decidedly the 
better of the two. Now I have to call you and S. to account 
for your breach of promise. What is the reason you did 
not come to my window, as you agreed to do, the morning 
you left Asheville ? I got up before four o'clock and waited 
and watched, at last grew angry, and wished in revenge 
that you might have fine weather and plenty of ripe black- 
berries the whole way ! It was a very shabby trick, and if 
you do not render a satisfactory explanation I shall — 
scold you well when next we meet. 

Your domestic items all interest me. How do you like 
the change of teachers in the school, and who will super- 
intend your room ? Will Dr. Ray still teach ? You must 


Pioneer Work 

tell me also what day school begins, that I may think of 
you and Billy sitting with grave faces behind the little 
wooden desks, rivalling one another in intense application. 
Did you take home any stones for our cabinets ? Does 
the collecting fit continue, or has it vanished with the 
departure of Mr. Hildreth ? I have not obtained many 
specimens as yet ; little Sarah Dickson takes great interest 
in bringing me what she considers pretty rocks, and 
putting them on a newspaper on my window seat. I was 
really surprised the other day to see how pretty they looked, 
though, of course, not of much value — little bits of quartz, 
white, grey, brown, pink ; a stone full of mica, which looks 
like a piece of lead ore ; a conglomerate of gneiss quartz 
tinged with some metallic substances, and with garnets 
embedded in some of the stones ; and flints of various 
colours ; nothing to a professed mineralogist, but pleasing 
to me. 

Last week I went to a party at Mrs. P.'s. She has a 
separate establishment from the hotel, with which she 
does not choose to have anything to do. I was invited to 
meet some Charleston ladies who had called on me, and 
made themselves very agreeable. I suppose you would 
have been most pleased with the eatables (the ice-cream, 
whips, jelly, and cakes were delicious), but what delighted 
me was a little Channing glorification (M. will under- 
stand what I mean) that Mrs. Carr (the lady who so 
resembles Ellen Channing) and I held in the garden. She 
has never seen our Mr. Channing, but the Doctor used to 
visit at their house, and she described with enthusiasm a 
splendid sermon that she heard him deliver in Philadelphia. 
1 replied by describing the eloquence of our Mr. C. Then 
she expatiated on the kindness and loveliness of the 
Doctor's character, to which I added a description of the 
goodness, purity, and the angelicalness of his nephew ; 
whereupon she expressed a great desire to see him, and I 
said that I should consider it one of the greatest of blessings 
to have enjoyed the social intercourse of the good Doctor. 
The conversation was quite a treat to me — a sort of safety- 
valve to heterodox steam that I lacked so deplorably at 

My playing seemed to give satisfaction ; the piano is a 
beautiful one, like ours on a more brilliant scale, and as 

Life in North Carolina 3 1 

there was no one to rival me in the instrumental way I 
raised the top, played the " Pot Pourri," and made a 
tremendous noise. (I do wish that minister would stop 
singing his nasal hymn-tunes just underneath me ; he has 
been at it all day, and it quite puts me out.) 

I also showed some tricks which puzzled the company 
— particularly a very tall man, with long, projecting nose 
and retreating forehead, who looked like a stupid fox. 
Miss Jane P. was seated in a corner, behind a little table, 
on which were draughts arranged as the nuns of the Lady 
Abbess, she challenging everybody to introduce the four 
cavaliers unknown to the blind mistress. Everybody said 
it was not possible, and Miss Jane turned triumphantly to 
me to know if I could do it. I said I could not only intro- 
duce the four knights, but their four squires also, and then 
suffer knights, squires, and four nuns to elope, without the 
blind Abbess having the slightest suspicion of the defection. 
Everybody thought it impossible, but when I actually 
performed the feat they looked upon me as half a conjurer 
— particularly the stranger fox — and Mrs. Dickson thought 
it was hardly safe that I should occupy the front bedroom 
in a young ladies' boarding-school, t also amused them 
with the three jealous couples crossing the stream ; we 
were all very merry, and I did more talking than I have 
accomplished in the same space of time for many a day. 
On our return home, the young gentleman who accom- 
panied me said that if he had only known I was coming he 
would have gone from New York to Cincinnati, to escort 
me to Asheville (I did not tell him how very glad I was he 
did not know it) ; and on my expressing a wish to visit 
Mount Pisgah, he assured me that to the very next party 
that was made up he would be sure to see that I received 
an invitation. (I did not say he need not trouble himself, 
that I should get the invitation without his interference ; 
I only thought all that, for I am growing very polite in 
my manners.) 

. . . About a week ago I rode to the Sulphur Springs, 
which are about four miles from Asheville ; they are not 
much resorted to, the country round being tangled and 
rather uninteresting. The springs, however, are situated 
in a delightful valley, through which the wind blew most 
refreshingly ; a roofed platform is erected in the midst of 

32 Pioneer Work 

the grass plat, the perfectly clear water welling up into a 
marble basin on one side, and then flowing away in a 
little rivulet. I found a country woman resting herself 
on the platform, with a bright, pleasant face and very 
communicative. I sat and talked to her and thought 
of the woman of Samaria ; presently a bilious-looking 
Southerner came down and drank a dipper full of water, 
which dispelled all the illusion, for my imagination con 
jured up rice-swamps and clanking chains. 

I have not taken many walks about here, for the weather, 
though delightful for July, is too hot for walking, and 
riding seems out of the question, it being harder to get a 
horse here even than it was at Henderson. Dr. Dickson 
has one old fellow, but he is used in the fields a good deal, 
and one person cannot ride alone. Borrowing or hiring 
seems equally impossible, so I shall be the poorest rider 
in the family apparently, for I suppose Henry's " nice 
little pony," and our three (?) other horses, will be kept in 
constant use. 

I find it equally impossible to get a partner in chess ; 
Dr. Dickson understands no such games, and disapproves 
of them, so I cannot train any of the girls, and Miss C. does 
not care to play. I set up the men one afternoon and tried 
to beat myself ; but it would not do, I could get up no 
enthusiasm, so I put the pieces away in despair, and used 
the board as a writing-desk. 

Tell me all the home news : what M. does and Ellen and 
Kate, what nonsense H. talks and S.'s puns, the visits they 
receive and the excursions they make. 

If you hear of any new books let me know, for I imagine 
they do not find their way up here very quickly. I have 
Littel's Living Age regularly, and I am reading Alison's 
History of Europe ; but such a thing as a novel Dr. Dickson 
reprobates, and all he calls light reading. 

Now, Howy, do you not think I am very good to send 
you such a long letter for your little scrap ? Write me a 
full sheet soon. 

Asheville : July 27, 1845. 

Dear Mother, — I received your welcome letter last 
night while engaged in your favourite Saturday evening's 
employment — singing hymns. A stranger minister who 

Life in North Carolina 33 

was to preach next day had just arrived, and I, seated at 
the piano, surrounded by the girls, was supplying him 
with sacred entertainment, when Howard Dickson laid 
your letter beside me. I smiled, and gave an involuntary 
quaver in the " Come, Holy Spi — ," which made the girls 
giggle ; but seeing the four eyes of the two ministers bent 
astonishedly upon us, I pulled a long face, the girls straight- 
ened theirs, and we continued — " rit, heavenly Dove." 

I soon ran off with a candle and my letter, and read 
with eagerness all the profane parts, and most of the 
religious, as it is a first letter. I am very glad that you 
derive so much peaceful satisfaction from Upham. I 
know it has a soothing influence, for whenever I had to 
go into your room of an afternoon I found you asleep on 
the bed with the book in your hand ; but I find no lack 
of such books here — Jonathan Edwards on the Affections, 
which I have lately read, has the same peaceful tendency. 

I have just performed my first professional cure, and 
am already dubbed Dr. Blackwell by the household. I 
mesmerised away a severe headache that afflicted Miss 
O'Heara, a kind-hearted, child-like, black-haired little old 
maid, the favourite of the family and especial pet of the 
children. She had just recovered from a very severe 
attack of illness, and great suffering in the mouth from 
calomel, which made her declare that no physician ought 
to receive his diploma till he has been salivated, that he 
may know the torture he is inflicting on his patients. I 
went into her room last night, and found her suffering 
from an intense throbbing headache. I offered to relieve 
her, half doubting my own powers, never having attempted 
anything of the kind ; but in a quarter or half an hour she 
was entirely relieved, and declared some good angel had 
sent me to her aid. 

I have just returned from the Sunday-school which 
we have organised to-day for the slaves. When I first 
came here I determined to teach all the slaves I could to 
read and write, and elevate them in every way in my 
power, as the only way I could reconcile it to my con- 
science to live amongst them ; but to my consternation 
I found that the laws forbade it, and that Dr. Dickson 
was not willing to evade them.l' Not the slightest effort 
was made to instruct them in any way, except that now 


Pioneer Work 

and then a sermon was preached to them ; but they had 
to labour on without a ray of light or hope. It was in- 
tolerable to me, and I proposed at last we should have 
Sunday-school, and give them real instruction ; and as 
such a scheme had been talked of about a year ago, I 
found a few who were willing to engage in the under- 
taking. Accordingly, this afternoon at three o'clock we 
made a beginning — four ladies and one gentleman, with 
about twenty-five scholars ; we have a class of men, 
women, boys, and two of girls. I take one of the latter, 
four girls, from eight to twelve years old. I assure you 
I felt a little odd, sitting down before those degraded little 
beings, to teach them a religion which the owners pro- 
fessed to follow whilst violating its very first principles, 
and audaciously presuming to stand between them and 
the Almighty. As I looked round the little room and 
saw those ladies holding forth to their slaves, fancying 
that now they were fulfilling every duty and were quite 
model mistresses, I longed to jump up, and, taking the 
chains from those injured, unmanned men, fasten them 
on their tyrants till they learned in dismal wretchedness 
the bitterness of that bondage they inflict on their brethren. 
But one person can do nothing. I sat quietly teaching, 
and reserved my indignation to vent on this inoffensive 
white paper. I am afraid much cannot be done for the 
slaves in this way ; their minds are so obscured, and oral 
instruction is so tedious, that the patience of both teachers 
and scholars may be worn out. I, however, shall do my 
utmost to illuminate both head and heart, and the poor 
children thanked me with humble sincerity this afternoon 
for my efforts. 

You need not be afraid I shall make myself conspicuous, 
or gain the hated name of Abolitionist. I sometimes 
reproach myself for my prudence and the calmness with 
which I answer some outrageous injustice, while I am 
really raging with indignation ; but it is the only way 
in which I can hope to do any good, for the slightest display 
of feeling arms all their prejudices, and I am no orator to 
convert by a burst of passionate eloquence ; so I must 
even go on in my own quiet manner, knowing that it does 
not proceed from cowardice. 

I wish I could give you a cheering account of numerous 

Life in North Carolina 35 

music scholars and French and German classes, but the 
place is too small for anything of the sort. I hear con- 
stantly a great deal about Charleston ; everybody seems 
connected with that city, and a great many of the inhabit- 
ants are spending the summer here and at the Springs. I 
mean to make some inquiries about the schools and teachers 
of that city.; it would be a pleasant residence in some 
respects. I mention this, not from any serious idea of 
going there, but that you may know the schemes that are 
passing through my mind. I am fixed here till December. 

My brain is as busy as can be, and consequently I am 
happy ; for one is only miserable when stupid and lazy, 
wasting ^the time and doing no good to self or anybody 

So you, too, mother, confirm Henry's account of the 
" fine doings " on our quiet Walnut Hills. I shall really 
begin to think that I have been the evil genius of the 
place, withholding the rain from the garden, the visitors 
from the house ; for no sooner am I gone than floods of 
both flow down and up, and everywhere are greenness 
and gaiety. Very well ; I certainly won't come back 
to bring a blight into Paradise. . . . But, seriously, if 
Miss A. G. comes up, I hope M. will consider it a call 
and return it with dignity, for it seems to me H. is growing 
wild and turning our house into a sort of banqueting-hall 
for Comus and his crew, which I beg M. to set her face 
against by taking every visit to herself. . . . 

My white bonnet is much admired here. Miss Char- 
lotte Carr sent to borrow it the other day, and has made 
one its exact image, flowers and all. I felt quite proud in 
setting the fashion in Asheville ! 

In 1846 the Asheville school was broken up, and I 
resolved to try my fortunes in the South, journeying 
with Mrs. John Dickson to Charleston, S.C., exchang- 
ing the fine mountain country for the level rice-fields 
of South Carolina. It was a striking journey — a trans- 
formation scene ! It is thus described in a journal of 
that date : — 

On January 14 we left by stage early in the morning. 
We jolted off in the bright moonlight ; the ground was 

36 Pioneer Work 

frozen hard and very rough. I walked with Flinn over 
the Blue Ridge and the Saluda, another branch of the 
Alleghanies. The weather was beautiful, the air invigo- 
rating, and the mountain seemed to deserve its name. 
On the top of the Saluda a stone marks the boundary of 
the two Carolinas. I hesitated at crossing it, for my 
affections are all with the " old North State." At the foot 
we drank to its health from the Poinsett Spring, as we 
had promised John to do. A little afterwards we passed 
the wildest scenery I ever remember to have seen. The 
road wound down the south side of the mountain in very 
abrupt curves, so as to form a succession of terraces one 
above the other ; whilst, on the opposite side, the wooded 
mountain ridge, though so near, was softened by mist, 
and seemed to tower to tremendous heights, though I 
was surprised to see how this height seemed to lessen as 
we descended. We reached Greenville late, after eighty 
miles of horribly rough staging ; there we spent the next 
day, and I took a pleasant walk with Flinn by the reedy 
river, which rushes in cascades through rocks and wooded 
hills. The next two days we travelled through pretty, 
undulating country, gradually becoming more level. I 
saw the first characteristic swamp, also the palmetto and 
the strange grey moss, a yard long, hanging from the 
trees. We spent a night in Columbia. It seemed a strange 
revival of old associations to enter a city once more. The 
hotel was full of horse-racers engaged in betting. The next 
day a rapid railway journey brought us to Charleston by 
two o'clock. The country between Columbia and Charles- 
ton was much prettier than I expected. The lovely day 
made everything beautiful ; the numerous pines, the holly, 
wild orange, live oak, and other evergreens seemed to give 
the lie to January. The moss, hanging one or two yards 
long from the trees, looked like gigantic webs or the ghosts 
of weeping willows ; the rice-fields, under water, were as 
blue as the sky ; the level cotton-fields, extending for 
hundreds of acres, with their belts of evergreens, were 
strange and beautiful. 

When we reached Charleston we were met at the station 
by Dr. Sam. Dickson's carriage, with its very gentlemanly 
negro coachman, who had been sent for Flinn and " the 
lady." So I said good-bye to kind Mrs. John Dickson, 

Life in South Carolina 37 

and, driving softly along to a large old-fashioned house, 
surrounded by a garden full of tall evergreens, I entered 
a spacious hall and was welcomed by Dr. Sam. and Mrs. 
Dickson and their eldest daughter, and ushered into a 
handsome drawing-room, cloak, hood, smoke, and all. 

Dr. Samuel H. Dickson, who thus hospitably 
welcomed me, was a distinguished physician of 
Charleston and professor in the Medical College of that 
town. He gave me kind encouragement in relation 
to my medical studies. Through his influence I soon 
obtained a position as teacher of music in the fashion- 
able boarding-school of Mrs. Du Pre (a connection of 
the Doctor) , where I taught for some hours every day, 
spending all my spare time in pursuing the medical 
studies which Dr. Dickson directed. Every morning" 
a couple of hours were devoted before breakfast to 
learning the necessary rudiments of Greek (for I had 
only so far been acquainted with Latin). 

The boarding-school occupied a fine old-fashioned 
mansion. The noble drawing-room, with its numer- 
ous windows overlooking the bay, was the scene of 
my teaching duties. 

When they were over, many quiet hours were 
passed in that pleasant room, studying the medical 
books which the Doctor supplied from his library. 

The severe duties of teaching and study were 
occasionally varied by larger interests, such as hear- 
ing a very able (though erroneous) oration on States' 
Rights, by Calhoun ; or the more carnal pleasure of 
a visit to a banana plantation. 

John C. Calhoun's address, given to the enthusiastic 
meeting which crowded the theatre, was noteworthy. 
The contrast between the calm, able orator, who 
appeared entirely unmoved by the rapturous demon- 
strations of his audience, who responded to every 
point in his clever but measured oratory, resembled 
the effect produced in our later day by the able states- 
man Parnell, who dominated his ardent Irish followers 

38 Pioneer Work 

by a similarly contrasted mental constitution. The 
influence of this able statesman, John C. Calhoun, was 
largely instrumental in causing the Civil War in 

The following familiar home letters indicate some 
of the varieties in the Charleston life : — 

Charleston : January 30, 1S47. 

Now, dear M., for a comfortable Sunday afternoon chat 
with you, after a long — it seems to me a very long — 
silence. I've just replenished my body with a comfortable 
portion of our regular Sunday dinner — viz. ham, fowl, 
sweet potatoes, and macaroni — of which last I've grown 
particularly fond, and now, wrapped in my blanket- 
shawl, I sit with my feet on the fender, over the embers 
of the parlour fire, and, as the girls are at church and only 
good Miss B. in the room, I hope for a nice long quiet time. 
But I must tell you of a great musical treat I've had, 
really the highest pleasure in that way that I ever remem- 
ber ; no less than two concerts by Herz and Sivori. I never 
have been so affected by music before ; yet the first concert 
made me sad, homesick, and discontented. I felt as I 
do after reading a powerful novel of Bulwer's. It was 
Sivori's violin that produced so strange an effect. Herz 
was a smooth, brilliant pianoforte player, with considerable 
superficial talent, nothing more ; but Sivori has genius. 
His playing bewildered me ; I did not understand it. It 
seemed to me like a chaos that might become a world of 
beauty could I only find the word that should reduce it to 
order. I went home unhappy and indignant at being 
obliged to pass life in such a stupid place, amongst such 
stupid people, where is neither beauty, nor intelligence, 
nor goodness. The next concert it went better with me. 
I sat near the platform immediately in front of Sivori, 
and examined his countenance, which certainly renders his 
performance clearer. He is very small, his head large for 
his body, a fine forehead, grand eyes, a stiff, sober manner, 
and occasional half-suppressed smile that reminded me con- 
tinually of Ellery Channing. The first piece, " II Cam- 
panello " of Paganini, was a gem ; the solemn, subduing 
. adagio, with a wild, striving conclusion, and the little 

Life in South Carolina 39 

clear silver bell coming in continually, like an angel's 
voice in the conflict of good and bad spirits. Then his 
prayer from " Moise," performed on one string, was the 
most devout music I ever listened to. I felt as if I were 
worshipping in an old cathedral at twilight, and I shut 
my eyes not to destroy the illusion by the expressionless 
concert-room and faces all round. The duet between 
Herz and Sivori was grand, both parts were so perfect. 
I went to the concert with a prejudice against Herz, from 
knowing his very bad moral character ; but his playing is 
very brilliant, though he is far from being a De Meyer. 
He has the most self-satisfied expression in his mouth, 
which, as a gentleman remarked, " seems to be going to 
eat his ears," it is so large. He was recalled after one of 
his pieces, and said, smiling, " I will play you a piece 
which I composed, since I am in Charleston. It is called 
' Souvenir de Charleston.' " 'Twas quite a dashing affair ; 
and then he extemporised beautifully on " Lucy Long." 
I hope you may have the pleasure in Cincinnati of hearing 
these real artists. Oh for the time when such music may 
be a daily feast for all, and when the performers shall be 
as noble in character as they are gifted in talent ! 

Charleston : February 28, 1847. 
My dear Mother, — Two letters from you within a 
twelvemonth seems as extraordinary as it is welcome. I 
was much gratified by the kind home voices which greeted 
my birthday. I always think of old family times on that 
day — the penny for each year which father used laugh- 
ingly to bestow, and the silver that came after, and then 
the little children's party, and all the merry old times ; 
but I am quite satisfied that my childhood has gone ; I 
never wish to recall it, happy as it was ; I want to be up 
and doing, not simply enjoying myself ; and if I never 
succeed in accomplishing all my intentions, I mean to have 
the comfortable assurance that I have tried hard and done 
my best. Your letter, besides its highly respected religious 
advice, which I always lay up carefully in a little scented 
corner of my mind, contains many little interesting domestic 
items. How I should like to tap at the window some night, 
while the brilliant solar lamp is illuminating the planets 
and glorifying the cheerful faces inside, and make you all 

40 Pioneer Work 

start as if you saw a ghost, till a most substantial shaking 
of the hand should convince you to the contrary ! We 
have had a very mild winter on the whole, to my no small 
delight, for I dreaded the cold exceedingly in this great 
house, where the wind rushes grievously through every 
door and window and finds only the ghost of a fire to warm 
it, and where heavy mists from the ocean chill the very 
marrow of your bones. I've fortunately had no broken 
chilblains on my hands this winter, and as I teach in the 
warmest room in the house, and throw open the shutters to 
let in all the sunshine, I don't often have to wear my blanket, 
but get along pretty comfortably. I am teaching at present 
more than eight hours a day, and you may imagine I get 
pretty tired by tea-time. Such a press of teaching, however, 
will not last very long, and I am quite willing that Mrs. 
Du Pre should gain as much as possible by me while I am 
with her. 

About a week ago I received an answer from the old 
Quaker physician, Dr. Warrington of Philadelphia, to 
whom I was introduced by Mrs. Willard of Troy some 
time ago. The letter is quite an original ; I must transcribe 
a little for your benefit : — 

" My dear E. Blackwell, — Thy letter of November 18 
came duly to hand ; it has indeed remained unanswered, 
but not unheeded. I have reflected much on the proposi- 
tions contained in it ; so strong a hold has the communi- 
cation had on my feelings and sympathies that I feared I 
might speak imprudently if I should reply impromptu to 
such noble sentiments. I have myself been so circum- 
stanced in life as to be rendered measurably competent to 
understand the force of promptings to move in somewhat 
new and little-tried paths. My immediate response would 
therefore perhaps have been, ' Go onwards ' ; and though 
if in reasonings with flesh and blood in this matter I may 
appear less ardent in my encouragement, let it be borne in 
mind that He who puts forth can without fail lead His 
devoted servants ; He can make a way where there ap- 
peared to be no way ; He can accomplish His purposes by 
instruments of His own selection in the bringing about His 
own ends — ' God shall work, and who shall let (hinder or 
prevent) Him ? ' 

" Now, this principle is recognisable by the pious of all 

Life in South Carolina 41 

denominations. It is one which has been found operative 
in very many important enterprises, and it is one which 
thy own mind seems so firmly to have settled that I scarcely 
need advert to it now, but to show that my own faith may 
sometimes be so feeble that I enter into human calculation 
as to the expediency of certain plans of operation which 
have suggested themselves to me in the course of my 
movements about this great city, or when I am reflecting 
upon the condition of humanity at large. Now, I frankly 
confess that it is in such a balance that I have from time to 
time weighed thy interesting concern. I have personally 
appealed to some of the most intelligent and liberal-minded 
ladies of my acquaintance how far the services of a well- 
educated female physician would be appreciated by them. 
The response uniformly is, ' Mrs. Gove and Mrs. Wright 
were unfit to teach, nor could any female become acceptable 
to us, either as a teacher or practitioner of medicine.' 
This language is stronger than I should be willing to use 
myself. It is an interesting matter of history, and one 
which may afford some encouragement to reformers to 
persevere, when they are assured that their cause has its 
foundation in truth, justice, and mercy ; that Saul, who 
had been most bitter in his persecution of Christians, 
joining in the popular outcry against the great Innovator, 
not only himself became a convert to the new faith, but 
under the name of Paul, for the balance of his active life, 
employed his powerful talents in the extension of the very 
doctrines which in his misguided zeal he had laboured to 
subvert. I confess, my dear lady, that I with thee see 
many difficulties in the way to the attainment — firstly, to 
the acquisition of the kind and amount of education thou 
art aware is necessary as a capital stock with which to begin 
the enterprise which has been opened to thy mind ; 
secondly, that after years spent in the attempt the popular 
mind will be found barred against thy mission of love and 
humanity ; but I beg thee to believe with me that if the 
project be of divine origin and appointment it will sooner 
or later surely be accomplished. Thus, in the language of 
Gamaliel on another occasion, ' If this work be of men it 
will come to nought, but if it be of God ye cannot over- 
throw it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.' 
In now addressing thee personally I cordially reiterate the 

42 Pioneer Work 

invitation. I should be happy to compare notes with thee 
at any leisure moment which may be afforded me, though 
I am in the whirl of occupation ; and if after our conferences 
together thou shouldest become as persuaded as I am that 
woman was designed to be the helpmeet for man, and that 
in the responsible duties of relieving ills which flesh is heir 
to it is appropriate that man be the physician and woman 
the nurse, it may possibly occur to thee that thy real 
mission in this world of probation will be to contribute 
with all the talents which thy Father in Heaven has so 
bountifully bestowed the exaltation of a portion of thy sex 
to the holy duties of nursing the sick, and thus succouring 
the distressed. With sentiments of most respectful con- 
sideration. . . ." 

This is a portion of the good Doctor's letter, and though 
our opinions differ considerably I cannot complain of his 
treating the matter too lightly. He seems to be an honest, 
simple-minded, enthusiastic old man, and I feel as if I 
might regard him as a friend in Philadelphia. The letter 
is copied by his wife in a clear, pretty hand, so I consider 
her as interested also. 

Well, my dear mother, I wish I could tell you something 
amusing ; but though we do a good deal of small laughing, 
it would hardly be worth while to put our jokes down on 
paper. Miss Buell and I talk of hiring a beau if we can get 
one cheap, for really these beautiful moonlight nights a 
walk on the Battery would be very pleasant, and a visit to 
the opera that is now in town would be by no means dis- 
agreeable ; but now we have to sit at our window and 
admire the moonlight on the waters, and sigh in vain after 
the vanities of the world, all for want of a beau — alas ! 
poor nuns that we are. Then sometimes the girls get up 
a little screaming for our benefit. The other night, for 
instance, the ten o'clock bell had rung. Miss Buell had 
seen that the lights were out and the girls in bed. We 
were comfortably sinking into forgetfulness on our pillows, 
when I fancied I heard some poor dog yelling in some yard. 
I listened sympathisingly, and found it was a human voice 
in the distance uttering at short intervals a succession of 
agonised shrieks. I was horrified and indignant. " Do 
listen," I cried ; " they must be whipping a poor negro ; 
isn't it abominable ? " We listened ; the shrieks seemed 

Life in South Carolina 43 

to draw nearer. " Why, Miss Buell, 'tis certainly the girls 
in the opposite room ! " " Oh, no, they are all asleep ; 
'tis sonny's voice downstairs : they must be washing him." 
" At this time of night ! What an idea ! I'm convinced it 
is the girls." The shrieks increased, and at intervals we 
distinguished the words : "Oh, Penny, Penny Grimke ! 
Oh, Miss Buell, Miss Blackwell, Mrs. Peters ! Oh, Mrs. 
Peters ! " I jumped out of bed, got a light, and hurried 
into the opposite room ; as I opened the door the noise 
almost stunned me. There were six girls, all screaming at 
the top of their voices, as pale as their nightgowns, and 
some of them almost in fits ; all the other doors were 
thrown open, and I was immediately surrounded by a 
perfect mob of girls in white nightgowns and caps, talking, 
crying, laughing, in a regular uproar. I threatened to 
blow out the lamp, to call Mr. Bonnetheau, to beat them 
all if they wouldn't hush, and at last I got at the origin of 
the affray. A couple of brushes had fallen on the floor, and 
one of the girls, affirming that somebody had touched her 
arm, began to scream ; all the others joined in, and I 
really believe that if I had not gone to them when I did 
they would have fallen into convulsions, so completely had 
they given themselves up to terror. These are some of the 
pleasant diversions of our life, and as I welcome anything 
that makes me laugh, they are quite acceptable. 

When the hot weather arrived I superintended the 
summer school, which for the health of the pupils was 
removed to Aiken, South Carolina, amongst the pine 
barrens ; a spot renowned for its healthiness, and 
which has since become a famous health resort. 

Aiken : July 1S46. 

Many happy returns, dear M., of your birthday. I send 
you the old greeting ; old, and full of meaning ; for life is 
a blessing, though our low, unworthy view may make us 
sometimes doubt it. Even if life were full of suffering, and 
annihilation its end, I should still hail it as a noble gift. 
But with a firm faith in infinite goodness and immortality, 
the most wearisome life becomes a source of triumphant 
thanksgiving. So I wish you again many happy returns 

44 Pioneer Work 

of glorious life ! And now I must thank you right heartily 
for a letter that was a real home gift ; or, as the Dial 
saith, " a letter that was no letter, but a leaf out of the 
book of Nature." How do your commentatical studies go 
on ? I am afraid it will be an unsatisfactory sort of business 
to search for the sun with a parcel of rushlights ; if it do 
not glow forth with unmistakable brilliancy I fear there's 
very little true solar light to be found. Last Sunday, not 
caring to pay the Episcopal church a second visit, I told 
Mrs. Du Pre I would go to a church in the woods, so she 
need not send the carriage back for me. I had seen a dark 
wooden building with little steeple, half hidden amongst the 
trees, that took my fancy. So I dressed and strolled through 
the sandy wood paths at the rate of a mile an hour, as I 
hate overheating myself. I reached my church at length, 
when, lo ! it proved to be a deserted schoolhouse, contain- 
ing two large cool rooms, built of weather-beaten pine, 
with projecting roof and pleasant elevated porch. Here I 
took my seat, whilst the village bells were ringing merrily. 
The schoolhouse was situated in the midst of pretty woods, 
encircled by a path of white sand which winds through the 
woods to the village. The sky was brilliantly blue ; the 
rich odour of the pines and the hum of insects had a very 
soothing effect, and I spent my time so pleasantly that I 
think I shall be tempted to pay my church in the woods 
many visits this summer. By-the-by, I find that the 
schoolhouse, cool and pleasant as it is, has been for some 
time deserted, because the three denominations of Aiken 
cannot agree on the choice of a teacher. I have found the 
summer here very pleasant hitherto. Indeed, I invite you 
all to come South and get cool ; I think I have never 
suffered so little from heat anywhere. 

November. — Let me set your mind at ease with regard 
to my fastidiousness, love of beauty, professional horrors, 
and so forth. My mind is fully made up. I have not the 
slightest hesitation on the subject ; the thorough study of 
medicine I am quite resolved to go through with. The 
horrors and disgusts I have no doubt of vanquishing. I 
have overcome stronger distastes than any that now 
remain, and feel fully equal to the contest. As to the 
opinion of people, I don't care one straw personally ; 
though I take so much pains, as a matter of policy, to 

Life in South Carolina 45 

propitiate it, and shall always strive to do so ; for I see 
continually how the highest good is eclipsed by the violent 
or disagreeable forms which contain it. I think you 
attribute a foolish sentimental fastidiousness to me that I 
do not possess. You also speak of my want of bodily 
sympathy being an objection. If I understand what you 
mean, I think it would prove of the most valuable assistance 
possible. I suspect you were thinking of that unlucky dose 
of lobelia I once gave you when I grew angry because you 
groaned and groaned, and obstinately refused to drink the 
warm stuff that would relieve you. I think I have sufficient 
hardness to be entirely unaffected by great agony in such a 
way as to impair the clearness of thought necessary for 
bringing relief, but I am sure the warmest sympathy would 
prompt me to relieve suffering to the extent of my power ; 
though I do not think any case would keep me awake at 
night, or that the responsibility would seem too great when 
I had conscientiously done my best. ... I want very 
much to have a little story printed which I have translated 
from the German. It is very pretty, and pleases the children 
greatly. I might get a hundred dollars for it. . . . Aiken 
is almost deserted, but I shall not go down till the 15th, 
when the Episcopal minister arrives to take charge of the 
school. To-morrow I shall be left entirely alone, not a soul 
in the house besides ; and only a negro man somewhat 
given to drink and a negro woman greatly given to scolding 
in the yard. . . . The autumn winds are howling round 
the house, blowing the leaves in whirlwinds. Our " Fall " 
has been very pleasant, though we've had fires for several 
weeks. The changing trees had a curious effect for a few 
days. I have four windows in my room, and the hickory 
trees outside turned a brilliant yellow, filling the room 
with a beautiful glow. During a very rainy day I several 
times looked up with joy thinking the sun was breaking 
forth ; but the rain soon changed their beauty, and now 
our pines and some oaks are the only cheerful things left. 

Returning to Charleston, the winter and spring 
were fully occupied with teaching ; the Christmas 
being cheered by the receipt from home of our 
" Family Christmas Annual," a collection of articles 

46 Pioneer Work 

in prose and verse, specially prepared anonymously 
by the various members of the family, and decorated 
by domestic artists. This diversion was continued 
for many years ; and several volumes are still pre- 
served as mementoes of those pleasant times. 


I 847- I 849 

In the summer of 1847, with my carefully hoarded 
earnings, I resolved to seek an entrance into a medical 
school. Philadelphia was then considered the chief 
seat of medical learning in America, so to Philadelphia 
I went ; taking passage in a sailing vessel from Charles- 
ton for the sake of economy. 

In Philadelphia I boarded in the family of Dr. 
William Elder. He and his admirable wife soon 
became warm and steadfast friends. Dr. Elder 
(author of the life of Dr. Kane, the Arctic voyager) 
was a remarkable man, of brilliant talent and genial 
nature. He took a generous interest in my plans, help- 
ing by his advice and encouragement through the 
months of effort and refusals which were now en- 

Applications were cautiously but persistently made 
to the four medical colleges of Philadelphia for admis- 
sion as a regular student. The interviews with their 
various professors were by turns hopeful and dis- 
appointing. Whilst pursuing these inquiries I com- 
menced my anatomical studies in the private school of 
Dr. Allen. This gentleman by his thoughtful arrange- 
ments enabled me to overcome the natural repulsion to 
these studies generally felt at the outset. With a tact 
and delicacy for which I have always felt grateful, he 
gave me as my first lesson in practical anatomy a 
demonstration of the human wrist. The beauty of the 
tendons and exquisite arrangements of this part of the 
body struck my artistic sense, and appealed to the 


48 Pioneer Work 

sentiment of reverence with which this anatomical 
branch of study was ever afterwards invested in my 

During the following months, whilst making applica- 
tions to the different medical colleges of Philadelphia 
for admission as a regular student, I enlisted the 
services of my friends in the search for an Alma Mater. 
The interviews with the various professors, though 
disappointing, were often amusing. 

Extracts from the Journal of 1847 

May 27. — Called on Dn Jackson (one of the oldest pro- 
fessors in Philadelphia), a small, bright-faced, grey-haired 
man, who looked up from his newspaper and saluted me 
with, " Well, what is it ? What do you want ? " I told 
him I wanted to study medicine. He began to laugh, and 
asked me why. Then I detailed my plans. He became 
interested ; said he would not give me an answer then ; 
that there were great difficulties, but he did not know that 
they were insurmountable ; he would let me know on 
Monday. I came home with a lighter heart, though I can 
hardly say I hope. On Monday Dr. Jackson said he had 
done his best for me, but the professors were all opposed 
to my entrance. Dr. Horner advised me to try the Filbert 
Street and Franklin schools. A professor of Jefferson 
College thought it would be impossible to study there, and 
advised the New England schools. 

June 2. — Felt gloomy as thunder, trudging round to 
Dr. Darrach. He is the most non-committal man I ever 
saw. I harangued him, and he sat full five minutes without 
a word. I asked at last if he could give me any encourage- 
ment. " The subject is a novel one, madam, I have nothing 
to say either for or against it ; you have awakened trains 
of thought upon which my mind is taking action, but I 
cannot express my opinion to you either one way or 
another." " Your opinion, I fear, is unfavourable." ' I 
did not say so. I beg you, madam, distinctly to under- 
stand that I express no opinion one way or another ; the 
way in which my mind acts in this matter I do not feel at 

In Philadelphia 49 

liberty to unfold." " Shall I call on the other professors 
of your college ? " "I cannot take the responsibility of 
advising you to pursue such a course." " Can you not 
grant me admittance to your lectures, as you do not feel 
unfavourable to my scheme ? " "I have said no such 
thing ; whether favourable or unfavourable, I have not 
expressed any opinion ; and I beg leave to state clearly 
that the operation of my mind in regard to this matter I 
do not feel at liberty to unfold." I got up in despair, 
leaving his mind to take action on the subject at his leisure. 

Dr. Warrington told me that he had seen his friend 
Dr. Ashmead, who had told him that Paris was such a 
horrible place that I must give up my wish for a medical 
education — indeed, his communication would be so un- 
favourable that he would rather not meet me in person. 
I told the Doctor that if the path of duty led me to hell 
I would go there ; and I did not think that by being with 
devils I should become a devil myself — at which the good 
Doctor stared. 

Nevertheless, I shrink extremely from the idea of giving 
up the attempt in America and going to France, although 
the suggestion is often urged on me. 

The fear of successful rivalry which at that time 
often existed in the medical mind was expressed by 
the dean of one of the smaller schools, who frankly 
replied to the application, " You cannot expect us to 
furnish you with a stick to break our heads with " ; so 
revolutionary seemed the attempt of a woman to 
leave a subordinate position and seek to obtain a com- 
plete medical education. A similarly mistaken notion 
of the rapid practical success which would attend a 
lady doctor was shown later by one of the professors 
of my medical college, who was desirous of entering 
into partnership with me on condition of sharing 
profits over 5000 dollars on my first year's practice. 

During these fruitless efforts my kindly Quaker 
adviser, whose private lectures I attended, said to 
me : " Elizabeth, it is of no use trying. Thee cannot 
gain admission to these schools. Thee must go to 

50 Pioneer Work 

Paris and don masculine attire to gain the necessary 
knowledge." Curiously enough, this suggestion of 
disguise made by good Dr. Warrington was also given 
me by Doctor Pankhurst, the Professor of Surgery in 
the largest college in Philadelphia. He thoroughly 
approved of a woman's gaining complete medical 
knowledge ; told me that although my public entrance 
into the classes was out of the question, yet if I would 
assume masculine attire and enter the college he could 
entirely rely on two or three of his students to whom 
he should communicate my disguise, who would watch 
the class and give me timely notice to withdraw should 
my disguise be suspected. 

But neither the advice to go to Paris nor the sug- 
gestion of disguise tempted me for a moment. It was 
to my mind a moral crusade on which I had entered, 
a course of justice and common sense, and it must be 
pursued in the light of day, and with public sanction, 
in order to accomplish its end. 

The following letter to Mrs. Willard of Troy, the 
well-known educationalist, describes the difficulties 
through which the young student had to walk warily : — 

Philadelphia : May 24. 

I cannot refrain from expressing my obligations to you 
for directing me to the excellent Dr. Warrington. He has 
allowed me to visit his patients, attend his lectures, and 
make use of his library, and has spoken to more than one 
medical friend concerning my wishes ; but with deep 
regret I am obliged to say that all the information hitherto 
obtained serves to show me the impossibility of accom- 
plishing my purpose in America. I find myself rigidly 
excluded from the regular college routine, and there is 
no thorough course of lectures that can supply its place. 
The general sentiment of the physicians is strongly opposed 
to a woman's intruding herself into the profession ; conse- 
quently it would be perhaps impossible to obtain private 
instruction, but if that were possible, the enormous expense 
would render it impracticable, and where the feelings of 

In Philadelphia 51 

the profession are strongly enlisted against such a scheme, 
the museums, libraries, hospitals, and all similar aids would 
be closed against me. In view of these and numerous 
other difficulties Dr. Warrington is discouraged, and joins 
with his medical brethren in advising me to give up the 
scheme. But a strong idea, long cherished till it has taken 
deep root in the soul and become an all-absorbing duty, 
cannot thus be laid aside. I must accomplish my end. I 
consider it the noblest and most useful path that I can 
tread, and if one country rejects me I will go to another. 

Through Dr. Warrington and other sources I am in- 
formed that my plan can be carried out in Paris, though 
the free Government lectures, delivered by the faculty, 
are confined to men, and a diploma is strictly denied to a 
woman, even when (as in one instance, as it is said) she 
has gone through the course in male attire ; }^et every 
year thorough courses of lectures are delivered by able 
physicians on every branch of medical knowledge, to 
which I should be admitted without hesitation and treated 
with becoming respect. The true place for study, then, 
seems open to me ; but here, again, some friendly physicians 
raise stronger objections than ever. " You, a young 
unmarried lady," they say, " go to Paris, that city of 
fearful immorality, where every feeling will be outraged 
and insult attend you at every step ; where vice is the 
natural atmosphere, and no young man can breathe it 
without being contaminated ! Impossible, you' are lost 
if you go ! " 

Now, dear madam, I appeal to you, who have had the 
opportunity of studying the French in their native land, 
is not this a false view, a greatly exaggerated fear ? Is it 
not perfectly true everywhere that a woman who respects 
herself will be respected by others ; that where the life is 
directed by a strong, pure motive to a noble object, in 
a quiet, dignified, but determined manner, the better 
feelings of mankind are enlisted, and the woman excites 
esteem and respectful sympathy ? To my mind this is 
perfectly clear, and I trust that your more experienced 
judgment will confirm my opinion. Probably, then, if all 
the information which I am still collecting agree with what 
I have already received, I may sail for France in the 
course of the summer, that I may familiarise myself with 

52 Pioneer Work 

a rapid French delivery before the commencement of the 
winter lectures. 

I have tried to look every difficulty steadily in the face. 
I find none which seem to me unconquerable, and with the 
blessing of Providence I trust to accomplish my design. 

After a short, refreshing trip with my family to the 
seaside, the search was again renewed in Philadelphia. 
But applications made for admission to the medical 
schools both of Philadelphia and of New York were 
met with similarly unsuccessful results. 

I therefore obtained a complete list of all the smaller 
schools of the Northern States, " country schools," as 
they were called. I examined their prospectuses, and 
quite at a venture sent in applications for admission to 
twelve of the most promising institutions, where full 
courses of instruction were given under able professors. 
The result was awaited with much anxiety, as the time 
for the commencement of the winter sessions was 
rapidly approaching. No answer came for some time. 
At last, to my immense relief (though not surprise, for 
failure never seemed possible), I received the following 
letter from the medical department of a small uni- 
versity town in the western part of the State of New 
York :— 

Geneva: October 20, 1S47. 
To Elizabeth Blackwell, Philadelphia. 

I am instructed by the faculty of the medical depart- 
ment of Geneva University to acknowledge receipt of 
yours of 3rd inst. A quorum of the faculty assembled 
last evening for the first time during the session, and it was 
thought important to submit your proposal to the class (of 
students), who have had a meeting this day, and acted 
entirely on their own behalf, without any interference on 
the part of the faculty. I send you the result of their 
deliberations, and need only add that there are no fears but 
that you can, by judicious management, not only " disarm 
criticism," but elevate yourself without detracting in the 
least from the dignity of the profession. 

In Geneva 53 

Wishing you success in your undertaking, which some 
may deem bold in the present state of society, I subscribe 

Yours respectfully, 

Charles A. Lee, 

Dean of the Faculty. 
15 Geneva Hotel. 

This letter enclosed the following unique and manly 
letter, which I had afterwards copied on parchment, 
and esteem one of my most valued possessions : — 

At a meeting of the entire medical class of Geneva 
Medical College, held this day, October 20, 1847, the 
following resolutions were unanimously adopted : — 

1. Resolved — That one of the radical principles of a 
Republican Government is the universal education of 
both sexes ; that to every branch of scientific education 
the door should be open equally to all ; that the applica- 
tion of Elizabeth Blackwell to become a member of our 
class meets our entire approbation ; and in extending our 
unanimous invitation we pledge ourselves that no conduct 
of ours shall cause her to regret her attendance at this 

2. Resolved — That a copy of these proceedings be signed 
by the chairman and transmitted to Elizabeth Blackwell. 

T. J. Stratton, Chairman. 

With an immense sigh of relief and aspiration of 
profound gratitude to Providence I instantly ac- 
cepted the invitation, and prepared for the journey 
to Western New York State. 

Leaving Philadelphia on November 4, I hastened 
through New York, travelled all night, and reached 
the little town of Geneva at 11 p.m. on November 6. 

The next day, after a refreshing sleep, I sallied forth 
for an interview with the dean of the college, enjoying 
the view of the beautiful lake on which Geneva is 
situated, notwithstanding the cold, drizzling, windy 
day. After an interview with the authorities of the 
college I was duly inscribed on the list as student 

54 Pioneer Work 

No. 130, in the medical department of the Geneva 

I at once established myself in a comfortable board- 
ing-house, in the same street as my college, and three 
minutes' walk from it — a beautiful walk along the high 
bank overlooking the lake. I hung my room with 
dear mementoes of absent friends, and soon with hope 
and zeal and thankful feelings of rest I settled down 
to study. 

Naturally, some little time was required to adjust 
the relations of the new student to her unusual sur- 
roundings. My first experiences are thus given in a 
letter to a sister : — 

Geneva: November 9, 1S47. 
I've just finished copying the notes of my last lecture. 
Business is over for to-day ; I throw a fresh stick into my 
" air-tight," and now for refreshment by a talk with my 
own dear sister. Your letter containing E.'s was the first 
to welcome me in my new residence ; right welcome, I 
assure you, it was, for I was gloomy — very. It was on 
Monday evening your letter came — my first work-day in 
Geneva. It had rained incessantly ; I was in an upper 
room of a large boarding-house without a soul to speak to. 
I had attended five lectures, but nevertheless I did not 
know whether I could do what I ought to, for the Professor 
of Anatomy was absent, and had been spoken of as a queer 
man. The demonstrator hesitated as to my dissecting ; 
I had no books, and didn't know where to get any ; and 
my head was bewildered with running about the great 
college building — never going out of the same door I went 
in at. 

. This evening, however, I have finished my second 
day's lectures ; the weather is still gloomy, but I feel 
sunshiny and happy, strongly encouraged, with a grand 
future before me, and all owing to a fat little fairy in the 
shape of the Professor of Anatomy ! This morning, on 
repairing to the college, I was introduced to Dr. Webster, 
the Professor of Anatomy, a little plump man, blunt in 
manner and very voluble. He shook me warmly by the 
hand, said my plan was capital ; he had some fun too 

At College 55 

about a lady pupil, for he never lost a joke ; the class had 
acted manfully ; their resolutions were as good as a political 
meeting, &c. 

He asked me what branches I had studied. I told him 
all but surgery. " Well," said Dr. Lee, " do you mean to 
practise surgery ? " " Why, of course she does," broke in 
Dr. Webster. " Think of the cases of femoral hernia ; only 
think what a well-educated woman would do in a city like 
New York. Why, my dear sir, she'd have her hands full 
in no time ; her success would be immense. Yes, yes, 
you'll go through the course, and get your diploma with 
great eclat too ; we'll give you the opportunities. You'll 
make a stir, I can tell you." 

I handed him a note of introduction from Dr. War- 
rington, and then he told me to wait in the ante-room 
while he read it to the medical class, who were assembled 
in the amphitheatre for his lecture, which was to be pre- 
paratory to one of the most delicate operations in surgery, 
and I suppose he wanted to remind them of their promise 
of good behaviour. I could hear him reading it. When 
his age and experience were spoken of there was a shout 
of laughter, for he can't be more than forty-five and not 
much of dignity about him ; but at the conclusion there 
was a round of applause, after which I quietly entered, 
and certainly have no reason to complain of medical 
students, for though they eye me curiously, it is also in a 
very friendly manner. After the lecture was over, the 
demonstrator, who now shows the utmost friendliness, 
explained to me at the Doctor's request a very important 
subject which I had lost. It was admirably done, illus- 
trated on the subject, and if to-day's lessons were a fair 
specimen, I certainly shall have no cause to complain of 
my anatomical instructors. The plan pursued here is 
admirable, and New York and Philadelphia may learn 
more than one lesson from Geneva. Dr. Webster came 
to me laughing after the first lecture, saying : " You attract 
too much attention, Miss Blackwell ; there was a very 
large number of strangers present this afternoon — I shall 
guard against this in future." " Yes," said Dr. Lee ; " we 
were saying to-day that this step might prove quite a good 
advertisement for the college ; if there were no other 
advantage to be gained, it will attract so much notice. 

56 Pioneer Work 

I shall bring the matter into the medical journals ; why, 
I'll venture to say in ten years' time one-third the classes 
in our colleges will consist of women. After the precedent 
you will have established, people's eyes will be opened." 

Now, all this kind feeling encourages me greatly, and 
I need it ; for though my purpose has never wavered, a 
flat, heavy feeling was growing upon me from constant 
disappointment. I was fast losing that spring of hope 
that is so pleasant ; consequently praise cannot make me 
vain, and the notice I attract is a matter of perfect indif- 
ference. I sit quietly in this large assemblage of young 
men, and they might be women or mummies for aught I 
care. I sometimes think I'm too much disciplined, but 
it is certainly necessary for the position I occupy. I believe 
the professors don't exactly know in what species of 
the human family to place me, and the students are a 
little bewildered. The other people at first regarded me 
with suspicion, but I am so quiet and gentle that sus- 
picion turns to astonishment, and even the little boys in 
the street stand still and stare as I pass. Tis droll ; some- 
times I laugh, sometimes I feel a little sad, but in Geneva 
the nine days' wonder soon will cease, and I cannot but 
congratulate myself on having found at last the right place 
for my beginning. 

I had not the slightest idea of the commotion created 
by my appearance as a medical student in the little 
town. Very slowly I perceived that a doctor's wife 
at the table avoided any communication with me, and 
that as I walked backwards and forwards to college the 
ladies stopped to stare at me, as at a curious animal. 
I afterwards found that I had so shocked Geneva 
propriety that the theory was fully established either 
that I was a bad woman, whose designs would gradu- 
ally become evident, or that, being insane, an outbreak 
of insanity would soon be apparent. Feeling the un- 
friendliness of the people, though quite unaware of all 
this gossip, I never walked abroad, but hastening daily 
to my college as to a sure refuge, I knew when I shut 
the great doors behind me that I shut out all unkindly 

At College 57 

criticism, and I soon felt perfectly at home amongst 
my fellow-students. 

The following extracts from my journal of those 
days show how any early difficulties were successfully 
overcome : — 

November 9. — My first happy day ; I feel really en- 
couraged. The little fat Professor of Anatomy is a capital 
fellow ; certainly I shall love fat men more than lean 
ones henceforth. He gave just the go-ahead directing 
impulse needful ; he will afford me every advantage, 
and says I shall graduate with eclat. Then, too, I am glad 
that they like the notoriety of the thing, and think it a 
good " spec." 

November 10. — Attended the demonstrator's evening 
lecture — very clear — how superior to books ! Oh, this is 
the way to learn ! The class behaves very well ; and 
people seem all to grow kind. 

November n. — Anatomy very interesting to-day ; two 
admirable demonstrations. Dr. Webster, full of enthusiasm, 
told us of Godman, who was converted to phrenology by 
reading a work against it, in order to cut it up. 

November 15. — To-day, a second operation at which 
I was not allowed to be present. This annoys me. I 
was quite saddened and discouraged by Dr. Webster 
requesting me to be absent from some of his demonstra- 
tions. I don't believe it is his wish. I wrote to him hoping 
to change things. 

November 17. — Dr. Webster seemed much pleased with 
my note, and quite cheered me by his wish to read it to 
the class to-morrow, saying if they were all actuated by 
such sentiments the medical class at Geneva would be a 
very noble one. He could hardly guess how much I needed 
a little praise. I have no fear of the kind students. 

November 20. — In the amphitheatre yesterday a little 
folded paper dropped on my arms as I was making notes ; 
it looked very much as if there were writing in it, but I 
shook it off and went on quietly with my notes. Some 
after-demonstration of a similar kind produced a hiss 
from the opposite side of the room. I felt also a very light 

58 Pioneer Work 

touch on my head, but I guess my quiet manner will soon 
stop any nonsense. 

November 22. — A trying day, and I feel almost worn 
out, though it was encouraging too, and in some measure 
a triumph ; but 'tis a terrible ordeal ! That dissection 
was just as much as I could bear. Some of the students 
blushed, some were hysterical, not one could keep in a 
smile, and some who I am sure would not hurt my feelings 
for the world if it depended on them, held down their 
faces and shook. My delicacy was certainly shocked, and 
yet the exhibition was in some sense ludicrous. I had to 
pinch my hand till the blood nearly came, and call on 
Christ to help me from smiling, for that would have ruined 
everything ; but I sat in grave indifference, though the 
effort made my heart palpitate most painfully. Dr. 
Webster, who had perhaps the most trying position, be- 
haved admirably. 

November 24. — To-day the Doctor read my note to the 
class. In this note I told him that I was there as a student 
with an earnest purpose, and as a student simply I should 
be regarded ; that the study of anatomy was a most serious 
one, exciting profound reverence, and the suggestion to 
absent myself from any lectures seemed to me a grave 
mistake. I did not wish to do so, but would yield to any 
wish of the class without hesitation, if it was their desire. 
I stayed in the ante-room whilst the note was being read. 
I listened joyfully to the very hearty approbation with 
which it was received by the class, and then entered the 
amphitheatre and quietly resumed my place. The Doctor 
told me he felt quite relieved. 

No further difficulty ever afterwards occurred. 

December 4. — Dr. Webster sent for me to examine a 
case of a poor woman at his rooms. 'Twas a horrible 
exposure ; indecent for any poor woman to be subjected 
to such a torture ; she seemed to feel it, poor and ignorant 
as she was. I felt more than ever the necessity of my 
mission. But I went home out of spirits, I hardly know 
why. I felt alone. I must work by myself all life long. 

Christmas Day.— Bright and gay with sleighs. The 
lake looks most beautiful, the mist rising from it in arches, 

At College 59 

the sky a brilliant blue, and the ground covered with 
snow. I received my Christmas Annual with great joy ; 
and having purchased 25 cents' worth of almonds and 
raisins, I had quite a cosy time reading it. 

Sunday, January 16.— A most beautiful day ; it did me 
good. The text impressed itself on me — " Thou wilt keep 
him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee." I 
felt happy and blessed. Ah ! if the Almighty would always 
shine on me, how strong I should be ! " The Lord God is a 
sun and shield ; the Lord will give grace and glory ; no 
good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." 

The behaviour of the medical class during the two 
years that I was with them was admirable. It was that 
of true Christian gentlemen. I learned later that some 
of them had been inclined to think my application for 
admission a hoax, perpetrated at their expense by a 
rival college. But when the bona-fvdc student actually 
appeared they gave her a manly welcome, and fulfilled 
to the letter the promise contained in their invitation. 

My place in the various lecture-rooms was always 
kept for me, and I w r as never in any way molested. 
Walking down the crowded amphitheatre after the 
class was seated, no notice was taken of me. Whilst 
the class waited in one of the large lecture-rooms for 
the Professor of Practice, groups of the wilder students 
gathered at the windows, which overlooked the grounds 
of a large normal school for young ladies. The pupils 
of this institution knew the hour of this lecture, and 
gathered at their windows for a little fun. Here, peep- 
ing from behind the blinds, they responded to the jests 
and hurrahs of the students. " See the one in pink ! ' 
" No, look at the one with a blue tie ; she has a note," 
&c. — fun suddenly hushed by the entrance of the 
Professor. Meanwhile I had quietly looked over my 
notes in the seat always reserved for me, entirely un- 
disturbed by the frolic going on at the windows. 

My studies in anatomy were most thoughtfully 
arranged by Dr. Le Ford, who selected four of the 

60 Pioneer Work 

steadier students to work with me in the private room 
of the surgical professor, adjoining the amphitheatre. 
There we worked evening after evening in the most 
friendly way, and I gained curious glimpses into the 
escapades of student life. Being several years older 
than my companions, they treated me like an elder 
sister, and talked freely together, feeling my friendly 

Under the intelligent instruction of the demon- 
strator anatomy became a most fascinating study. 
The wonderful arrangements of the human body 
excited an interest and admiration which simply 
obliterated the more superficial feelings of repug- 
nance ; and I passed hour after hour at night alone 
in the college, tracing out the ramification of parts, 
until, suddenly struck by the intense stillness around, 
I found that it was nearly midnight, and the rest of 
the little town asleep. 

I was equally amazed and shocked some years later, 
after dining with Mr. Walsh, the American Consul in 
Paris, to learn that he had remarked that he could not 
look at my long slender fingers without thinking of the 
anatomical work in which they had been engaged. 

As the term drew to its end there was regret at part- 
ing from friends I had made, and also anxiety from the 
uncertainties that still attended my future course. 
These feelings are expressed in my journal : — 

January 21. — I felt sad when the lectures actually closed. 
I received a curious friendly letter from one of the students, 
requesting the honour of an occasional correspondence. 
It cheered me, funny as it was. Another student told me 
he had a daguerreotype-room, and asked me to sit for my 
likeness to-morrow ; but I told him it had annoyed me 
so much to see my name in the papers that I certainly could 
not give my face too. 1 He said he had thought of graduat- 

1 I was then very shy, and much annoyed by such public notices 
as the following : — 

" A very notable event of the year 1848 was the appearance at the 
medical lectures of a young woman student named Blackwell. She 

At College 61 

ing in August, but now he was glad he had not, as I intended 
returning to Geneva — too funny ! 

January 24. — Went to Dr. Hadley for my certificate ; 
and attended the examinations. I suppose they were as 
thorough as most ; but they were certainly not much of 
a test. Most of the students answered very well, but some 
very badly. 

Miss Waller gave me an oyster supper and we had a 
very pleasant time. Mrs. Wilson convulsed us by an 
account of how she was actually struck down by the sudden 
braying of a jackass, which she heard for the first time 
during a visit to the North, she never having heard the bray 

January 25. — Attended Commencement (or ceremony 
of graduation), which after all was not so very formidable. 
When I went to wish Dr. Hadley good-bye I found the 
whole faculty assembled, and very merry at breaking up. 
They talked over my affairs, but gave me no important 
advice. To my great disappointment no letters of intro- 
duction were prepared for me, but only a promise given 
that they should be sent on at once. I was very sad at 
parting from the Wallers ; but had a pleasant chat with 
the students whom I found in the railroad cars. 

Passing through New York, where I dined with my 
kind preceptor, Dr. S. H. Dickson, and his wife, then 
living in the town, I returned to Philadelphia to try and 
arrange for summer study. Whilst seeking medical 
opportunities I again stayed in Dr. Elder's family, and 
endeavoured to increase my slender finances by dis- 
posing of some stories I had written, and by obtaining 
music pupils. 

is a pretty little specimen of the feminine gender, said the Boston 
Medical Journal, reporting her age at twenty-six. She comes into 
the class with great composure, takes off her bonnet and puts it 
under the seat, exposing a fine phrenology. The effect on the class 
has been good, and great decorum is observed while she is present. 
The sprightly Baltimore Sun remarked that she should confine her 
practice, when admitted, to diseases of the heart." — Springfield 

6z Pioneer Work 

Knowing very little of practical medicine, I finally 
decided to spend the summer, if possible, studying in 
the hospital wards of the great Blockley Almshouse of 
Philadelphia. This enormous institution promised a 
fine field of observation. I obtained a letter of intro- 
duction to Mr. Gilpin, one of the directors of the 

He received me most kindly, but informed me that 
the institution was so dominated by party feeling that 
if he, as a Whig, should bring forward my application 
for admission, it would be inevitably opposed by the 
other two parties — viz. the Democrats and the Native 
Americans. He said that my only chance of admission 
lay in securing the support of each of those parties, 
without referring in any way to the other rival parties. 
I accordingly undertook my sole act of " lobbying." I 
interviewed each political leader with favourable 
results, and then sent in my petition to the first Board 
meeting — when, lo ! a unique scene took place ; all 
were prepared to fight in my behalf, but there was no 
one to fight ! I was unanimously admitted to reside 
in the hospital. This unanimity, I was afterwards 
assured, was quite without precedent in the records of 
the institution. 

On entering the Blockley Almshouse, a large room 
on the third floor had been appropriated to my use. 
It was in the women's syphilitic department, the most 
unruly part of the institution. It was thought that my 
residence there might act as a check on the very 
disorderly inmates. My presence was a mystery to 
these poor creatures. I used to hear stealthy steps 
approach and pause at my door, evidently curious to 
know what I was about. So I placed my table with 
the books and papers on which I was engaged directly 
in a line with the keyhole ; and there I worked in view 
of any who chose to investigate the proceedings of the 
mysterious stranger. The following home letter gives 
a glimpse of the Blockley life : — 

In Blockley Almshouse 63 


Dear Mother, — Do not fear for me. I go on smoothly 
and healthily at Blockley : there is really nothing pesti- 
lential amongst the diseases, and I live simply, do my duty, 
trust in God, and mock at the devil ! The matron is the 
only lady in the establishment (present company excepted), 
and I frequently step in to see her. She wears a nice white 
cap, has smooth grey hair, and soft dove's eyes like yours, 
and I sometimes look at her and think of you till her loud 
voice breaks forth in fierce scolding, and then I think of 
Mrs. Beelzebub. She sits in an immense room, in the centre 
of the almshouse proper, and ensconced in her armchair, 
with feet propped on a velvet footstool, she dispenses orders 
from morning to night, gives out clothing, raves at the 
paupers, and dooms the refractory ones to a shower-bath. 
She is a Quaker — very pious, I believe — attends yearly 
meeting regularly, and has an Episcopal minister for her 
only son ; she is one of the " strong-minded women," 
and manages matters to the entire satisfaction of the 
committee. I like to talk with her occasionally, for she is 
shrewd and has seen much of life through dark spectacles. 

What a contrast she is to our head physician ! When 
I first saw Dr. Benedict I thought him the very loveliest 
man the Almighty ever created, and I still preserve my 
opinion ; the tears come into his eyes as he bends down 
to soothe some dying woman, and his voice is as gentle, 
his touch as kind to each patient as if she were his sister. 
Then he is as truthful, energetic, and spirited as he is 
kind, so, of course, we are very good friends, though we 
don't see much of each other. 

I often send a thought to Cincinnati as I roam through 
the wards and imagine our contrasted employments ; all 
letters unite in calling you the best, the most cheerful, 
most indefatigable mother that ever did exist. " All her 
daughters praise her, and her sons call her blessed." How 
I wish you could pay me another visit this summer ! Well, 
dear mother, Heaven bless you — write to me sometime. 

Your loving physician, E. 

At that time, and for many years after, the subject 
which those wards where I lived represented was an 
unknown problem to me. I was strangely ignorant of 

64 Pioneer Work 

the extent and meaning of that phase of our human 
society which represents the selfish relations of men 
and women. This semi-blindness, however, proved a 
real safeguard to me through the many unusual ex- 
periences of my subsequent life. It was not until 1869, 
when attending the Social Science Congress in Bristol, 
that my mind at last fully comprehended the hideous- 
ness of modern fornication. 

But my residence at Blockley prepared my mind to 
some extent for later revelations, as is shown by 
entries in my journal : — 

June 22. — I had a long talk with Nurse Welch, on the 
patients in her departments, which impressed me deeply. 
Most of the women are unmarried, a large proportion 
having lived at service and been seduced by their masters, 
though, on the whole, about as many seducers are unmarried 
as married ; I found no instance of a married woman living 
with her husband entering. 

This morning one young woman tried to escape from 
Blockley by tying sheets together and fastening them 
outside the window bars, but they giving way, she fell 
down from the third storey, and was picked up suffering 
from concussion of the brain and other injuries. All this is 
horrible ! Women must really open their eyes to it. I am 
convinced that they must regulate this matter. But how ? 

August 17. — Drank tea with the matron, and had a very 
pleasant time. She excites me, and I influence her. She 
actually apologised to me for her rough and tyrannical 
treatment of one of the women. 

August 19. — A beautiful thought came to me this lovely 
morning. Emerson says, " Our faith comes to us in 
moments, our vice is habitual." I never till now could 
explain this to my satisfaction. It is that the atmosphere 
of our society, of our daily surroundings, is false ; it 
attracts the demons, they encompass us continually, for 
we live in their home. The angels have to strive to come 
to us. But when by a holy inspiration, or an effort of 
man's nobler nature, he rises to a purer sphere, then the 
angels throng lovingly round him : he breathes the Divine 

Return to College 65 

life. But the moment this effort is relaxed, he, not living 
in a heavenly atmosphere, naturally and inevitably sinks 
again into hell, because his present home is there — for 
he cannot separate himself from the race. Not till the race 
is redeemed will our habitual state be heavenly, and the 
true spontaneous Divine life be possible. This is the 
philosophy of effort. The solidarity of our race asserts 
the impossibility of present permanent Divine life. Bless 
God for our deep momentary experiences — -our prophetic 
assurances ! This sweet morning refreshes me inexpres- 
sibly. The wind that lifts my hair seems filled with angel 
hands that soothe the soul to peace ; that little warbling 
bird fills me with holy joy ; a glory seems to rest every 
where, a tide from the Divine Nature. 

During my residence at Blockley, the medical head 
of the hospital, Dr. Benedict, was most kind, and gave 
me every facility in his power. I had free entry to all 
the women's wards, and was soon on good terms with 
the nurses. But the young resident physicians, un- 
like their chief, were not friendly. When I walked into 
the wards they walked out. They ceased to write the 
diagnosis and treatment of patients on the card at the 
head of each bed, which had hitherto been the custom, 
thus throwing me entirely on my own resources for 
clinical study. 

During the summer of 1848 the famine fever was 
raging in Ireland. Multitudes of emigrants were 
attacked with fever whilst crossing the ocean, and so 
many were brought to Blockley that it was difficult to 
provide accommodation for them, many being laid on 
beds on the floor. But this terrible epidemic furnished 
an impressive object-lesson, and I chose this form of 
typhus as the subject of my graduation thesis, studying 
in the midst of the poor dying sufferers who crowded 
the hospital wards. I read my thesis to Dr. Elder, 
and was greatly encouraged by his hearty approba- 

Trying as my painful residence at Blockley had 
been both to body and mind, I was conscious of the 

66 Pioneer Work 

great gain in medical knowledge and worldly experi- 
ence which it had afforded. The following journal 
entry expresses the mixed feelings with which that 
strange residence was left : — 

September 22. — My last evening at Blockley. Here I 
sit. writing by my first fire. How glad I am, to-morrow, 
to-morrow, I go home to my friends ! And yet as I 
watched the beautiful sunset from my great windows, as 
little Mary Ann pays her willing attendance, and all 
seems so friendly ; as I walked to Dr. Benedict's with 
my thesis, and felt the entrancing day and the lovely 
country, I almost regretted that I was going to leave. 
Heaven guide me ! May good spirits ever surround me 1 

At the end of the summer I gladly returned to the 
healthy and hopeful college life at Geneva. Passing 
through New York, where I saw Dr. Dickson and his 
family and heard Henry Ward Beecher preach, I 
reached my winter's home on October 3, reported 
myself at college, met everywhere a kind welcome, 
and settled down for winter work. The clever demon- 
strator again afforded me his valuable aid in anatomy, 
and the friendliness of the class continued. Some- 
times, whilst sitting by the Doctor during some delicate 
demonstration of the brain, the students who were 
crowding round, standing on chairs, leaning on one 
another's shoulders, kept most respectfully from me, 
drawing back instantly when by accident they touched 
my head or shoulder. 1 

October 26. — The class held a meeting to-day to request 
a holiday on election day ; and a political division was 
called for by the assembled students. I went over to the 
" Free Soil " side, and was received with repeated cheer- 
ing. I asked Dr. Le Ford, reproachfully, if he was going to 
vote for the slave-holder, Taylor ; whereupon he gave me 
his reasons for political action, and grew quite eloquent 
in his self-defence. 

1 See Appendix I. 

At College 6j 

.^'November 12. — Howy made his appearance to-day, just 
as I settled down to perpetrate an essay for the family 
Christmas Annual. How good it is to see a brother ! He 
looked very well, and we had a merry time together. I 
stayed away from afternoon lectures to be with him. He 
is a capital companion and greatly improved. I did more 
laughing than I've done for months. His visit did me real 
good, for I have been so lonely. Heaven bless the dear 
boy in his future ! 

Sunday, igth. — Alone all day in my room, yet any- 
thing but lonely. Bright visions of usefulness have been 
floating round me. I consecrated myself anew to the 
accomplishment of a great idea. I tried to lecture for an 
hour to an imaginary audience ; striving to prepare for 
work by seeking expression for my thoughts. 

I would I were not so exclusively a doer ; speech seems 
essential to the reformer, but mine is at present a very 
stammering, childish utterance. 

26th. — Went to church. Mr. Hogarth said some true 
things. He drew our thoughts to the reformers of old, 
with their sublime trust in the Most High. With a strange 
feeling of pleasure I claimed kindred with Asa, King of 
Judah, who broke the idols of the people and overcame 
the hosts of the Ethiopians. 

November 30. — Our evening lecture broke up in a political 
Hurrah ! for a Whig orator and John Van Buren were both 
speaking in the town, and the students rushed to attend 
the political meetings. I again discussed the subject with 
Dr. Le Ford ; he justifying himself enthusiastically for 
being a Whig. He talked well, but I grew tired of those 
old expediences. 

By this time the genuine character of my medical 
studies was fully established. 

Had I been at leisure to seek social acquaintance, I 
might have been cordially welcomed. But my time 
was anxiously and engrossingly occupied with studies 
and the approaching examinations. I lived in my 
room and my college, and the outside world made 
little impression on me. 

68 Pioneer Work 

Extracts from the Journal 

December 22. — The deepest snow I have seen for years. 
It was as much as I could do to walk to college ; but all 
was pleasant, the class seem so very friendly. One set 
me a chair, another spoke so pleasantly, and I had several 
little friendly chats. How little they know my sensitive- 
ness to these trifling tokens ! The unusual weather, an 
alarm of fire, Dr. Webster's arrival, were so many points 
for sociability. 

December 31. — The New Year's Eve. Alone, as usual, I 
spent the day ; at night, as I watched the last moments of 
the year slowly depart, a deep solemnity came over me — a 
hopeless sorrow for poor humanity. I seemed to hear the 
heavy resounding bell of time, tolling mournfully the dying 
year, whilst angels with covered faces, and forms that bent 
with sorrow, waited to receive the finishing scroll of the 
world's existence, that the fearful record guarded in dark- 
ness and silence might at last be unrolled in the terrible 
light of eternity ! 

January 1. — Stayed quietly in my room, whilst the 
merry sleigh-bells and gay voices rang without. 

nth. — I called to see the pretty blind girl operated on 
this morning ; she was all alone in the hotel, her friends 
far away. Poor child ! she has no protector, within or 
without ; she asked me who the student was that brought 
her home, when college would be out, &c. ; her simple 
heart and idle fancy are soon caught. Such are the women 
I long to surround with my stronger arm. Alas ! how 
almost hopeless does the task seem ! But God is omni- 

January 19. — Dear M., — I sit down to try and quiet 
myself by writing to you for this morning. I, as first on 
the list of candidates, passed through the usual examina- 
tions, presented my certificates, received the testimony of 
satisfaction from the faculty, whose recommendation;|will 
procure me the diploma next Tuesday. Now, though the 
examinations were not very formidable, still the anxiety 
and effort were as great as if everything were at stake, and 
when I came from the room and joined the other candidates 
who were anxiously awaiting their turn, my face burned, 

At College 69 

my whole being was excited, but a great load was lifted 
from my mind. The students received me with applause 
—they all seem to like me, and I believe I shall receive my 
degree with their united approval ; a generous and chivalric 
feeling having conquered any little feelings of jealousy. I 
often feel when I am with them how beautiful the relations 
of man and woman might be under a truer development of 
character, in nobler circumstances. I do not know the 
moral character of any one of our students, for I have no 
genius for hunting up the darker parts of a person's soul ; 
but I know that Geneva is a very immoral place, the lower 
classes of women being often worthless, the higher ones 
fastidious and exclusive, so that there is no healthy blending 
of the sexes. But notwithstanding the bad associations in 
which they may have been brought up, I have never had 
any difficulty in giving the right tone to our intercourse. 
I am more convinced than ever that Fourier is right in 
placing this matter in the hands of women, and my hope 
rises when I find that the inner heart of the human being 
may still remain pure, notwithstanding some corruption 
of the outer coverings. I don't know if I've ever told you 
how deep this matter of licentiousness has gradually sunk 
into my soul, and that the determination to wage a war of 
extermination with it strengthens continually, and the 
hope of gaining power and experience to do it worthily is 
one of my strongest supports in action. So help me God, 
I will not be blind, indifferent, or stupid in relation to this 
matter, as are most women. I feel specially called to act 
in this reform when I have gained wisdom for the task ; the 
world can never be redeemed till this central relation of 
life is placed on a truer footing. 

But I meant to talk to you about the cholera. Our 
physicians confessedly cannot cure it. The Professor 
who lectured upon it yesterday commenced : " Gentle- 
men, I wish I could tell you how to cure the cholera, but 
under all modes of treatment the mortality seems to be the 
same ; however, I will tell you something of the disease, 
and what I would do if called to a case." 

The cordial relations with Professor and students 
continued. Throughout the examination time the 
most friendly interest was felt in my success by my 

jo Pioneer Work 

fellow-students. One of my brothers came on to 
Geneva to attend my graduation. Being personally a 
stranger to the students, he was much amused by the 
free indications of friendly comradeship which he over- 
heard. The ceremony of conferring the full and equal 
diploma of Doctor of Medicine upon a woman excited 
much interest in the neighbourhood. It was held in 
the large Presbyterian Church, which, with its ample 
galleries, was crowded in every part with spectators. 
The other students walked in procession from the 
college to the church, but I went up with my brother 
and took my seat in the side aisle. 

Extracts from the Journal of 1849 

January 22. — Our examinations came off successfully. 
Hurrah, 'tis almost over ! 

Tuesday, January 23, 1849. — The day, the grand day. 
is nearly finished ; and now whilst visitors are dropping 
in I must record my first entrance into public life — 'twas 
bright and beautiful and very gratifying. Great curiosity 
was felt. As I entered and sat in the church I gave one 
thought to friends, and then thought only of the Holy 
One. After the degree had been conferred on the others, I 
was called up alone to the platform. The President, in 
full academical costume, rose as I came on the stage, and, 
going through the usual formula of a short Latin address, 
presented me my diploma. I said : " Sir, I thank you ; 
it shall be the effort of my life, with the help of the Most 
High, to shed honour on my diploma." The audience 
applauded, but their presence was little to me. I was 
filled with a sense of the grandeur of a holy life, with high 
resolves for the future. As I came down, George Field 
opened the door of the front row, and I was much touched 
by the graduates making room for me, and insisting that I 
should sit with them for the remainder of the exercises. 
Most gladly I obeyed the friendly invitation, feeling more 
thoroughly at home in the midst of these true-hearted 
young men than anywhere else in the town. I heard little 
of what was said ; my whole soul was absorbed in heavenly 
communion. I felt the angels around me. Dr. Lee gave 

Last Days at College 71 

the valedictory address ; he surprised me by the strong 
and beautiful way in which he alluded to the event. I felt 
encouraged, strengthened to be greatly good. As I stood at 
the door the faculty all most kindly wished me good-bye, 
and Dr. Hale and Bishop De Lancy shook hands and con- 
gratulated me. All the ladies collected in the entry, and 
let me pass between their ranks ; and several spoke to me 
most kindly. 

For the next few hours, before I left by train, my room 
was thronged by visitors. I was glad of the sudden con 
version thus shown, but my past experience had given me 
a useful and permanent lesson at the outset of life as to the 
very shallow nature of popularity. 

The following letter, written by a younger brother 
who came to be with me on this important occasion, 
gives some interesting as well as amusing details of 
the event : — 

Geneva : January 23, 1849. 

Beloved Relations, — The important crisis is past, the 
great occasion over, the object of so much and so justifiable 
anticipation has been attained, and proud as I always feel 
of the Blackwells, my familism never seemed to me so 
reasonable and so perfectly a matter of course as it did this 
morning, when, having escorted E. into the crowded 
church and taken my seat beside her, we learned from the 
music that the graduating class, headed by the dean, 
trustees, faculty, &c, were inarching in solemn conclave 
into the aisle. I found E. well and in good spirits, as you 
may suppose. Monday morning E. and I went to the 
college, where she underwent a second examination, as did 
also the other members of the graduating class, from the 
curators of the university, no others but themselves, the 
class, and the faculty being admitted. From this, as from 
the former one, our Sis came off with flying colours and 
the reputation of being altogether the leader of the class. 
In the afternoon they were successively called upon to 
read from their theses, and to this I was admitted ; but 
Elizabeth's being in Buffalo to be printed, she could not 
be called upon. The Professor and students all seem to 
feel most kindly and warmly friendly. While I sat by 
the stove on Monday morning at the college whilst the 

J2 Pioneer Work 

graduating class were undergoing their examination below, 
the other students, scarcely any of them being acquainted 
with my personality, conversed freely about matters and 
things, and of course about Elizabeth. " Well, boys," one 
would say, " our Elib. feels first-rate this morning. Do you 
notice how pleased she looks ? " " Yes, indeed," replied 
another, " and I think she well may after the examination 
she passed yesterday." " So Lizzie will get her diploma 
after all," said a third. " If any member of the class gets 
one, she is sure of it," said a fourth. Then all agreed that 
" our Elib." was " a great girl," and in short I found that 
she was a universal favourite with both professors and 
students. Nothing could be more cordial than the former 
are, and several are very gentlemanly and intelligent men 
indeed, and I formed some pleasant acquaintances among 

On the morning of the Commencement little Dr. Webster 
was in his glory ; he is a warm supporter of Elizabeth and 
likes a fuss, and nothing could exceed his delight when he 
found that the whole country round was sending in large 
numbers of people, and that all the ladies of Geneva were 
turning out en masse to see a lady receive a medical diploma. 
At ten o'clock a.m. the students met at the college and 
marched in procession with music to the Literary College, 
where they were headed by the Bishop of New York, Dr. 
Hale, the dean, and the curators, the faculty, &c. Dr. 
Webster was very anxious that E. should march in pro- 
cession, and sent down two messages to that effect ; but 
E. very properly refused. About half-past ten o'clock 
Elizabeth and I walked up to the church — she was very 
nicely dressed in her black brocaded silk gown, invisibly 
green gloves, black silk stockings, &c. As we ascended the 
college steps, Dr. Webster met Eliz. and again urged the 
request, whereupon she told him peremptorily that " it 
wouldn't be ladylike." " Wouldn't it indeed ? Why, no, 
I forgot — I suppose it wouldn't," said the little Doctor, 
evidently struck for the first time with the idea. So it was 
arranged that Eliz. and I should sit down at the entrance 
of the left aisle and join the procession as it came up, and 
we then walked in and sat down. We found the church, 
galleries and all, crowded with ladies, they only having been 
as yet admitted ; and of course when we came in there 

Receives the Medical Degree 73 

was a general stir and murmur, and everybody turned to 
look at us. By the time the procession came up, all the 
pews, except those reserved for students, were filled, and 
the gentlemen had to pour in afterwards and take the 
aisles, &c. When the procession entered, Mr. Field, a 
very pleasant, gentlemanly fellow-graduate, offered his 
arm, and all the class took their seats together in front of 
the stage. After a short discourse by Dr. Hale, the Presi- 
dent, the diplomas were conferred — four being called up 
at a time— and, ascending the steps to the platform, the 
President addressed them in a Latin formula, taking off 
his hat, but remaining seated, and so handed them their 
diplomas, which they received with a bow and retired. 
Elizabeth was left to the last and called up alone. The 
President taking off his hat, rose, and addressing her in 
the same formula, substituting Domina for Domine, pre- 
sented her the diploma, whereupon our Sis, who had 
walked up and stood before him with much dignity, bowed 
and half turned to retire, but suddenly turning back 
replied : " Sir, I thank you ; by the help of the Most High 
it shall be the effort of my life to shed honour upon your 
diploma " ; whereupon she bowed and the President bowed, 
the audience gave manifestations of applause, little Dr. 
Webster rubbed his hands, the learned curators and faculty 
nodded grave approbation at each other upon the platform, 
and our Sis, descending the steps, took her seat with her 
fellow-physicians in front. Now walks up into the pulpit 
Professor Lee, with a large manuscript and a solemn air, 
and commences his address to the graduates. It was on 
the whole good ; he gave it pretty strong to Horn 020- 
pathists, Hydropathists, Mesmerists, Thompsonians, &c, 
and gave the ladies of the audience quite a lecture for their 
encouragement and circulation of quack medicines, in- 
forming them that they had better study a little the 
principles of medicine before attempting to practise what 
they were so profoundly ignorant about. At the close he 
alluded to the novel proceeding which they had taken, and 
the censure or imitation which it would necessarily create. 
He justified the proceeding, and passed a most gratifying 
and enthusiastic encomium on the result of the experiment 
in the case of Eliz. He pronounced her the leader of her 
class ; stated that she had passed through a thorough 

74 Pioneer Work 

course in every department, slighting none ; that she had 
profited to the very utmost by all the advantages of the 
institution, and by her ladylike and dignified deportment 
had proved that the strongest intellect and nerve and the 
most untiring perseverance were compatible with the 
softest attributes of feminine delicacy and grace, &c, to 
all which the students manifest by decided attempts at 
applause their entire concurrence. As the audience passed 
out the Bishop came up with Dr. Hale, requested an intro- 
duction, and spoke very pleasantly, congratulating her on 
her course, to the great astonishment of the conservatives. 
As we walked out of the church we found that almost all 
the ladies had stopped outside, and as we appeared, 
opened their ranks and let us pass, regarding E. with very 
friendly countenances. Most of E.'s time was taken up 
till our departure next day at half-past one o'clock in 
receiving calls from her few friends. 

The admission of a woman for the first time to a 
complete medical education and full equality in the 
privileges and the responsibilities of the profession 
produced a widespread effect in America. The public 
press very generally recorded the event, and expressed 
a favourable opinion of it. 

Even in Europe some notice of it was taken, and 
Punch showed his cordial appreciation by his amusing 
but friendly verses. 1 

I knew, however, that a first step only had been 
taken. Although popular sanction had been gained 
for the innovation, and a full recognised status secured, 
yet much more medical experience than I possessed 
was needed before the serious responsibilities of 
practice could be justly met. Returning, therefore, 
to Philadelphia, I endeavoured still to continue my 
studies. I was politely received by the heads of the 
profession in Philadelphia as a professional sister, and 
made the following notes in a journal of that date : — 

March 6. — A morning of great gratification ; welcomed 
cordially to the university, and afterwards heard Doctors 

1 See Appendix II. 

In Philadelphia 75 

Jackson, Hodges, Gibson, Chapman, and Horner lecture. 
Drs. Lee and Ford were with me, the former quite in 
spirits at my reception. 

**." March 10. — Heard Dr. Williamson lecture and received 
his ticket. Visited the Pennsylvania Hospital, Dr. Levich 
showing me over it ; admired the gallery with its alcoves 
and the excellent ventilation. I heard Professor Agassiz 
last night. He has just commenced a course of lectures on 
the animal world ; his manner was simple and earnest, 
and the principle he laid down will render his course of 
lectures very interesting if he develop them fully. I am 
also rubbing up my French, which may be very important 
to me. 

The following letter is characteristic of that period 
of life :— 

February 25. 

My dear Mother, — You sent me a dear, good, welcome 
letter, and I kiss you heartily for all its affection and sym- 
pathy in my eccentric course. I did not miss out, either, 
any of the pious parts, but I do think, mother mine, that it 
is a little hard that you will not believe me when I tell you 
so seriously that my soul is doing first-rate. You urge upon 
me the importance of religion — why, bless the dear mother, 
what am I doing else but living religion all the time ? Isn't 
it my meat and my drink to do the good will of God ; didn't 
I use to sit in the lecture-room and send up a whole cannon- 
ade of little prayers ; and didn't a whole flood of answers 
come straight down from the throne of grace ? And what 
am I doing now ? Do you think I care about medicine ? 
Nay, verily, it's just to kill the devil, whom I hate so heartily 
— that's the fact, mother ; and if that isn't forming Christ 
in one, the hope of Glory, why, I don't know what is. So 
pray comfort yourself, and have faith that such a " child 
of many prayers " will be fixed up all straight at last. . . . 
I live in a good society, the fellowship of hard-workers, for 
however little the result of my actions may be, I have the 
strengthening conviction that my aim is right, and that I, 
too, am working after my little fashion for the redemption 
of mankind. I agree with you fully in distrusting the 
Harbinger, and should certainly banish it from my 
centre table if I had risen to the dignity of possessing one. 

j6 Pioneer Work 

I dislike their discussions, and their way of discussing 
some subjects. I think them calculated to do a great deal 
of mischief, and am only consoled by the reflection that 
few people read them. I go in whole-souledly for the 
Divine marriage institution, and shall always support it 
by precept, and as soon as I get the chance by example 
too, and all those who would upset it I consider fools and 
infidels. I think Associationists too often a very poor set 
of people, and if they would commence by reforming them- 
selves, and let the Almighty take care of the world, I think 
they would be much better emplo}'ed. As to the infidel 
French philosophy you talk of, it is just twaddle, which I 
should instantly reject if anybody were to stuff it into me. 
I am now longing to be at work abroad, where I might 
spend my time much more profitably — but I do want 
greatly to see you all again. How long it is since I was at 
home ! — more than five years, I think. I cannot consent 
to become a stranger to the Geschwistern, and W. and E. 
& E. seem almost unknown. Good-bye, dear mother. I 
shall see yo'u soon, and then you will be able to read me 
sermons to your heart's content. — Your M.D. 

I felt, however, keenly the need of much wider 
opportunities for study than were open to women in 
America. Whilst considering this problem I received 
an invitation from one of my cousins, then visiting 
America, to return with him to England, and en- 
deavour to spend some time in European study before 
engaging in practice in America. This valuable offer 
was joyfully accepted, and I prepared for a journey to 
Europe, first of all paying a short farewell visit to my 
family in Cincinnati. 

Extracts from the Journal 

April 5. — How kind and good and glad to see me they 
all were ! I walked out with S. and met them all. G. had 
quite grown out of my knowledge. I am very glad to have 
spent this fortnight at home. We had general and private 
talks without end. 

April 7. — They all came down to see me off. They 
stood on the adjoining boat as we sailed away up the 

Leaves for Europe 77 

river, mother leaning on S., the three sisters on one side, 
H. and G. on the other, all hearts in sympathy. I could 
not keep down the tears as I caught the last glimpse of 
those dear, true ones. 

Travelling East, I joined my cousin in Boston, 
whence we sailed for Liverpool. 

Extracts from the Journal 

April 18. — Dear Mr. Channing was with me till I left. 
His medical uncle, Dr. Channing, also came to see me. I 
never met my old friend more fully ; he regretted deeply 
this flying visit, which disappointed him in the talks l.e 
had planned. Beautiful Boston Bay vanished in the 
distance. America, that land of memories, was left far 
behind. I took to my berth and lay there in misery five 
days and nights. How I loathe the ship ! 



On April 30 we landed at Liverpool, and I began to 
make acquaintance with the wonderful and unknown 
Old World, which I had left when a child of eleven. 
Everything seemed new and striking. The substan- 
tial character of Liverpool, the " finished look" of the 
surrounding country, the extraordinary character of 
the mining district — all awakened keen interest. My 
poor cousin being ill with rheumatism, however, we 
journeyed on at once to his home at Portway Hall, 
near Dudley. A fortnight was spent in this pleasant 
home, which, though in the centre of the " Black 
Country," was surrounded by gardens where the flowers 
were fresh and sweet, the trees in beautiful leaf, whilst 
the cuckoo saluted us in the morning and the nightin- 
gales at night. I gained a glimpse of the lovely English 
country, and spent a memorable time in examining 
the novel surroundings of the great mining district of 
England. The following letters are descriptive of a 
young student's impressions on revisiting her native 
land more than a generation ago. 

Portway : May 2, 1849. 

Thanks be to Heaven, I am on land once more, and 
never do I wish again to experience that hideous night- 
mare — a voyage across the ocean. We had the warmest 
welcome at my cousin's pleasant home. ... I went one 
afternoon to see the casting— that is, when the melted 
iron, like a river of fire, flows into the moulds which shape 
it. The Russel Hall Works are close by the town of 
Dudley. There is a wide extent of smoky country, with 
many little groups of machinery and brick buildings, each 


Return to England 79 

constituting or rather surrounding a pit ; many mounds 
of glowing coal turning into coke ; piles of iron-stone 
being burned previous to the smelting ; the houses of the 
managers in various directions ; the office at the entrance ; 
and immediately in front the two great blast-furnaces, 
which burn incessantly day and night, making many 
thousands of tons a year. Very few workmen were to be 
seen, but underground a whole army of them were hard at 
work. The casting was very curious. Twice a day the 
melted iron is drawn off from the bottom of the great 
brick towers they call furnaces. Strong men with faces as 
black and scorched as a coal were busy, armed with iron 
poles, guiding the sea of fire that rushed out into the moulds 
that covered a great extent of ground, drawing out the 
white-hot masses of cinders and dirt, and splashing cold 
water over the front of the furnace to enable them to 
stand there. We remained at the farther end, but the heat 
was so great that we had to cover our faces. Suddenly, 
with a loud noise, the flames burst out from the furnaces, 
ascending to the very top, immense volumes of black 
smoke rolled over our heads, and the rushing noise grew 
louder and louder. I thought some accident had occurred, 
and looked out for the safest retreat, when I found it was 
only the clearing of the furnaces by sending a powerful 
blast through them, which was always practised after a 
casting. Within a square of twelve miles one-sixth of the 
iron used in the world is said to be made. ... I paid a 
visit to Dudley Castle, having a great curiosity to see a 
veritable old castle, a ruined castle ; and I explored every 
corner, looked up the broad chimneys, and peeped out of 
the stone window frames and loopholes with a feeling of 
true antiquarian enthusiasm. We sat down on a stone 
bench at the foot of the keep, which is very old, and on 
a little hill on the western side of the courtyard ; there 
we tried to revive the scene as it may have looked hundreds 
of years ago, when armed men were bustling about the 
court, and visions of fair ladies gleaming from th.3 upper 
windows and now ruined terraces. The castle crowns a 
wooded hill, commanding the town and level country for 
many miles ; the remains of a double wall with a moat 
between still surround the castle. As I stood by those 
strong walls and looked down on the wide fields below, I 

80 Pioneer Work 

began to imagine how grandly an army would approach, 
and how noble a defence the castle would make, till I 
longed to revive the ancient conflicts, and almost frightened 
my companions by my martial demonstrations and visions 
of grim warriors peeping through the iron-barred windows. 
But the illusion could not last long ; the country is covered 
with smoke and coal-pits, the wallflower is smiling on the 
ruins of the old castle, and instead of subterranean dungeons 
and dark passages the hill is excavated for limestone ; 
and these artificial caverns of enormous extent, with a 
canal winding through them and echoing to the voices of 
the workmen, form one of the most curious features of the 
place, and show how the same energy and power are still 
at work, though in a very different direction. We drove 
home through the little town of Dudley, which presented 
a most curious spectacle, for it was market day, and the 
workmen from all the country round, having received their 
wages, were come in with their wives and children to make 
their weekly purchases. The streets were crammed with 
people, and our carriage made its way through a living mass 
that hardly opened to let it through. I examined the 
people, as I have constantly done since I entered the 
country, with great curiosity. I could not see one hand- 
some face in the whole multitude — indeed, the English 
appear to me a very common-looking people— but neither 
was I struck by the misery I expected to see. In Liverpool 
I had peered into all the back alleys and odd corners I could 
find ; I have done the same in Dudley. There is great 
cleanliness observed everywhere, that compares most 
favourably with American cities, and the inhabitants of 
those districts, though miserable, of course, according to a 
true standard of human life, were neither more numerous 
nor more wretched than I have been accustomed to see 
in America. I have very rarely seen a beggar, and in no 
instance one that has particularly excited my compassion. 
This district is one of the most thickly peopled in England, 
and certainly presents an average view of the mining 
districts, and the poor labourers seem far more comfortable 
and intelligent than I had supposed. The manufacturing 
districts, I have no doubt, would present a different 
spectacle. I have had no opportunity of judging them. I 
have just learned to my great satisfaction that Mr. Charles 

At Portway 81 

Plevins, an old friend of my cousin, is going to London for 
a few days, and will escort me there and remain during my 
stay. I can hardly tell you what a relief this is, for the 
idea of going to that great city an entire stranger, and 
wandering about it utterly alone, was a most desolate, 
oppressive thought, and entirely destroyed all the pleasure 
of the anticipation, though I assumed a very independent 
tone in speaking of my journey when I found it was utterly 
impossible for cousin to accompany me. He is an old 
friend of cousin's, though young — only twenty-five — and 
there is an air of youth and immaturity about all his 
opinions and actions ; but his spirit is so beautiful that 
you have only to see in order to love it, so pure and gentle, 
so true and genial. In my opinion he belongs to a class of 
young Englishmen that I find is large and constantly 
increasing. Cousin S. is one of them. They are reformers 
in spirit, but not destroyers ; they have no clear immediate 
plan of reform, and so earnestly maintain the present 
system until they find a better one ; but they are all the 
time seeking for truth, and longing most earnestly to realise 
that grand future in which they all believe. Fichte is one 
of their favourite teachers ; Carlyle, Emerson, Channing, 
all we have known and learned from in the past, they 
worship now ; but they have yet to study Fourier and 
Swedenborg before they can reach that strong hope and 
clear insight which will make their working strong, happy, 
and practically efficient. Now, there is too much of meta- 
physical abstraction in their thoughts, their religious faith 
is not a glorious reality, and in the case of our friend Charles, 
he despises the material world too much, and seeks to 
subdue the body and purify the spirit by privations which 
proceed from the noblest motive but a mistaken faith. 

I have a curious interest in seeing and hearing him ; it 
revives so completely my earlier life, when I thought as 
he does now, and strove for the same ends by the same 
means. My medical effort won his admiration before I 
arrived, and since I came here he has done me every little 
service in his power. His family is an old and highly 
respected one in Birmingham, and when he found I wished 
to see something of medicine in the city he used his in- 
fluence to arrange a useful day for me. Accordingly, the 
day before yesterday I went in with him to Birmingham, 

82 Pioneer Work 

having received invitations from several physicians. We 
spent the day in visiting the various institutions together, 
and as it was my first introduction to the English medical 
world, and as I consider it a good omen, I must describe 
our doings particularly. 

Mr. Parker, surgeon to the Queen's Hospital, had some 
difficulty in believing that it was not an ideal being that 
was spoken of ; but when he found I was really and truly 
a living woman he sent me an invitation to witness the 
amputation he was going to perform, and promised to 
show me all the arrangements of the institution, sending 
also a note of admission to the college and museum. Dr. 
Evans, a distinguished physician, invited me to the General 
Hospital, the largest and oldest one, and expressed much 
sympathy in my undertaking. Dr. McKay, of the Lying- 
in-Hospital, thought that God and Nature had indicated 
the unfitness of women for such a pursuit as I had chosen, 
but still said he would be very happy to show the lady all 
he could. All the students were on the qui vive to see the 
lady surgeon, and as we approached the building I saw them 
peeping through doors and windows. Mr. Parker, a fat, 
rosy-faced John Bull, received me very politely, introduced 
me to some M.D.'s who had come to see the sight, showed me 
the arrangements of the hospital, which is young and not 
particularly interesting, and then took me to the operating- 
room. It was crammed with students, and as fresh ones 
arrived they would peep about, whisper to their neighbours, 
and then work their way to a place where they could see 
me. It was just a repetition of old scenes ; a few minutes' 
curiosity, and then all went on as usual. The students 
presented the same mixture of faces as our American ones, 
wore rather better coats, and seemed to be quicker in their 
movements. I noted nothing peculiar in the operation, 
which was skilfully performed, without chloroform, which 
Mr. Parker disliked. Before leaving, he offered me a letter 
to the famous Roux of Paris. 

At the General Hospital, established sixty years, Dr. 
Heslop received me with the utmost deference, showed 
me every ward, male and female, pointed out every case 
of note, let me examine it, and detailed the treatment, 
particularly one operation for subclavian aneurism, which 
was so remarkable that they were going to publish the 

Life in London 83 

case. Dr. Percy, of Birmingham, a particular friend of S., 
has promised to meet me in London, and to furnish me 
with all the necessary introduction to give me an insight 
into the medical world of the great metropolis. So I look 
forward now with great hope to a short but delightful 
visit, and leave for London next Saturday, the 12th, to 
await my passports, which I shall probably receive with 
letters on the 16th, and then off again for the land of 
dancing and wooden shoes. I heard the cuckoo this 
morning ; what a soft human sound it is ! Last night the 
nightingales were singing sweetly in the twilight. Our 
garden is full of lovely English flowers ; the primrose and 
cowslip, laurustinea, and many others make our garden 
beautiful, though the weather is a most cold, gloomy nurse 
to the little darlings. 

May 17. — We left Portway yesterday afternoon. I 
parted from our friends with great regret ; we were getting 
used to one another ; a home feeling was growing up there 
to me, and so it was time to be off. We arrived late in 
London, so I could only remark the many handsome houses 
in gardens that marked its environs, the fine and spacious 
orderly railway station, the wide streets and gay shops. 
This morning, after seeing Dr. Percy, Cousin S.'s friend, 
who has promised to give me the necessary introductions 
to the hospitals to-morrow, we walked about five miles 
through the city before reaching Mrs. X.'s house in Devon- 
shire Street. During our walk we passed through many 
handsome squares with monuments and public buildings, 
not an isolated one, as with us, but row after row of grand 
pillared edifices, whole streets of palaces, substantial, 
built of freestone, but all rendered dingy by smoke, 
which permeates the atmosphere and penetrates every- 
where. The most venerable pile of Westminster Abbey 
is crumbling with age ; the cathedral service was 
being chanted when we entered ; the central space 
was filled with people. The aisles are in the form of 
a cross, bordered by tall pillars rising lofty and plain to 
support the long vistas of arches. The spaces are filled up 
by a wilderness of monuments, a subdued light pouring in, 
a cool, stony atmosphere filling the cathedral. It is a noble 
old building, and has impressed me more than anything 
I've seen. From Westminster Bridge I saw the new Houses 

84 Pioneer Work 

of Parliament — an immense pile, the ornaments too delicate 
for its size. The poor little river was covered with boats, 
and the bridge with people enjoying the Sunday ; but 
London was much quieter than I supposed it would be. I 
noticed but one " confectionery store " partly open ; the 
day seemed to be very strictly observed. We walked through 
Regent Street, and through endless rows of handsome 
houses constituting the " West End," to Mrs. X.'s. We 
were shown in by a footman in crimson plush breeches, 
white stockings, and claret-coloured coat with gold buttons, 
to the drawing-rooms — the walls lined with figured crimson 
velvet, and all manner of lounges and tables covered with 
knick-knackery scattered about. The lady made her 
appearance in a blue and black satin dress with jet orna- 
ments and a lace headdress— a handsome brunette, with 
red cheeks and very black eyes and hair, and altogether too 
much mannerism to please me. She was evidently criticis- 
ing me, and holding herself in a non-committal attitude. 
I sat still and talked very quietly, thinking to myself that 
if I were condemned to live there one week I should over- 
turn the lady and smash everything to atoms. Presently 
a few fashionable morning visitors dropped in to condole 
with the lady, who had scratched her throat by swallowing 
a mouthful too hastily, and so was an invalid ; some 
messages of inquiry and condolence were delivered by an 
old, grave footman, so very silly, and answered in so absurd 
a manner, that I wondered how the man could keep a grave 
countenance ; and yet the lady had wit and spirit which 
occasionally flashed out. Sir J. H. came in with Dr. H. to 
see me. I had a little very pleasant talk, and am to meet 
him on Tuesday. We descended to lunch, ladies sitting 
down in their bonnets. The dining-room and library had 
ceilings beautifully painted to imitate the sky with clouds ; 
the whole house was hung with paintings. The lady's 
manner grew gradually pleasanter ; she seemed to like 
me, admired my hand, and insisted on my drinking a 
glass of wine — the first I ever took. I told her so, and 
she was much pleased at her influence. She took us in 
her barouche through Regent's Park, and then extended 
her drive to Hyde Park. These parks are very beautiful — 
miles of grassy lawn, scattered over with groves, gardens, 
and clumps of trees, with occasional water, and varied 

Life in London 85 

with little valleys. They are surrounded by rows of 
palace houses, sometimes approaching the carriage road, 
sometimes lost in gardens and shrubbery. I did enjoy 
to see the people walking about, sitting under the trees, 
inhaling a little fresh air on the quiet Sunday, for the 
most perfect order prevailed. Our hostess became quite 
agreeable, laughed, and chatted merrily about all manner 
of nothings. It was impossible to converse with her ; 
she must do the talking with a little support, and she gave 
forth a good deal of shrewd worldly wisdom. She set us 
down at the Zoological Gardens in Regent's Park, with 
many regrets that an engagement to a dinner-party in the 
country prevented her asking me home, and the expres- 
sion of a strong desire to have a long, full conversation. 

■ ' Monday, May 1849. — This morning I called on Dr. Car- 
penter, who has written those admirable works on phy- 
siology. He lives near Regent's Park ; it was spark- 
ling with dew as I walked through — refreshingly sweet. 
I found him and his wife exceedingly agreeable. I liked 
them at once. They questioned me with great interest 
about my past course. I am to meet some distinguished 
people at their house to-night, and among them a Miss 
Gillies, an artist who has watched my steps with the 
highest pleasure, and who thinks the only true livers are 
the workers. I received several notes of introduction from 
Dr. C. He says I must hear Mr. Paget lecture ; that he is 
the most promising surgeon in England. I found an 
invitation to a pharmaceutical soiree awaiting me on my 
return, with the information that I might see all the dis- 
tinguished M.D.'s there assembled. 

Evening. — I have just returned from Dr. C.'s delightful 
little party. The ladies were in regular ball costume ; some 
dresses very elegant ; dancing to the piano ; music, vocal 
and instrumental. Dr. C. gave us a very beautiful piece of 
Mendelssohn's on the organ ; he and his wife sang together 
with great feeling. His microscopes, said to be the most 
beautiful in England, were there. His preparations were 
exquisite : the lung of a frog most minutely injected, a 
piece of shark skin which seems covered with innumerable 
teeth, and piles of other specimens. Miss Gillies is a dis- 
tinguished artist. I am to visit her and see her relation, 

86 Pioneer Work 

Dr. Southwood Smith. Chapman, the well-known pub- 
lisher, was present, and talked a good deal to me, but 
seemed a little undecided what tone to take. He has a very 
handsome, intellectual face. I was introduced to many 
pleasant people ; one had the rare, beautiful face of 
Cowper's mother. Great interest seemed to be felt in my 

Before going to Dr. C.'s I went to examine the specimens 
collected for the pharmaceutical soiree. I was surprised to 
find that the papier-mache models have been hitherto 
unknown in England, and that the people were regarding 
with the utmost rapture specimens which are in common 
use in all American colleges. Sir J. H. drove us to the 
Consumption Hospital and the Chelsea Botanical Gardens 
— a most kind-hearted, simple-mannered old gentleman. . . . 

Dr. Percy secured me a great treat. I visited the 
Hunterian Museum in company with Mr. Owen, who 
lectures at the institution. It is said to be the finest 
collection of comparative and morbid anatomy in the 
world. Mr. Owen is a man of genius, and the hour passed 
away like a minute while listening to his eloquent de- 
scriptions of the fossil remains and the laws which related 
them to living animals, to man, and to the globe. He 
invited me to come any morning between ten and twelve, 
but unfortunately my time is too crowded. The obstetric 
collection is very fine ; if I return through London I shall 
certainly try to spend a week or two in examining it. 

We next took the railroad and went to Greenwich, 
choosing the third-class open cars that I might see the 
country, which is laid out in market gardens richly culti- 
vated, all round London, though the city, stretching out 
through Deptford to Greenwich, makes one uninterrupted 
town in that direction. Greenwich Hospital for Sailors 
has impressed me more than any other institution with 
the power and wealth of the nation. It is a series of great 
palaces, connected by colonnades with double rows of 
pillars ranged round a large green open to the river, with 
the park and observatory in the background. The old 
sailors were hobbling about in comfortable dresses, with 
enormous rations of bread and meat ; for we reached it 
just at dinner-time, and they were allowed to take their 
meals and eat in their cabins. There are long walks where 

In London 87 

they smoke, and they rove about in the freest style. Their 
chapel is a very beautiful hall, though I fear the rich paint- 
ing and mosaic is lost on the rough tars. The Painted 
Hall is immediately opposite ; the vaulted ceiling is 
covered with figures which are larger than life, even from 
below ; the walls are entirely covered with large paintings, 
richly framed, of naval engagements and naval heroes, 
and many relics of the great commanders are preserved in 
cases. The park is always open to the public ; groups of 
women and children were sitting under the fine old trees, 
and the deer were so tame that they took no notice of 
passers-by. We sailed up the river to Waterloo Bridge, 
passing the Tower and St. Paul's, and several handsome 
stone bridges. Then we went over the British Museum, 
which is thrown open to the public. We had only time to 
pass rapidly through hall after hall devoted to branches of 
natural science, Egyptian monuments, Grecian remains, 
&c, all admirably classified, with a label to every specimen. 
How I longed that our students, and particularly a certain 
E. B., could enjoy the great advantage of walking to such 
an institution, and seeing each object of study actually 
there in its natural relations ! I hastened home to wash 
and dress, and reached Mrs. X.'s just in time for the seven 
o'clock dinner. It was a tremendous operation. We sat 
at table for three hours. I really grew stiff, notwithstanding 
the champagne I drank. By-the-by, that is the only 
wine I like ; iced champagne is really good. I sat by Sir 
J. H. at table, and never discovered till I had left that it 
was actually mother's old friend. He told Charles that he 
knew my mother, and remembered my face perfectly, 
having often seen me at church. I regretted exceedingly 
that I did not know the connection till too late, for I had 
always liked the kind old gentleman, and he would have 
seemed to me quite like an old friend. He has been rather 
unfortunate in money matters lately, and was robbed of 
all his family jewels by a foreign count and countess whom 
he was hospitably entertaining. He possesses an old 
chateau in France, which he often visits, and gave me his 
card to use at Boulogne, in case I went that way. The 
general conversation, however, was stupid, and I really 
needed our three-mile walk home to wear off its con- 
straining effects. . . . 

88 Pioneer Work 

Thursday morning I visited my first hospital, St. 
Thomas's, but under rather unpleasant circumstances ; 
indeed, I hesitated whether to go at all. The surgeon to 
whom I sent my letter of introduction knew nothing 
about me, thought it was a very indelicate undertaking, 
and simply sent me a line to one of the nurses, with the 
request that I would not enter any of the men's wards. 
I swallowed the indignity, however, and went, feeling 
very uncomfortable. But to my surprise, after I had been 
there a little while I was met by Mr. South, the senior 
surgeon, who had come on purpose to meet me and show 
me everything— a very kind, rather eccentric man, who 
paid me the utmost attention, and pointed out everything, 
even to the everlasting brewhouse of the establishment. 
In the museum he drew my attention to many noteworthy 
specimens, such as the aorta tied by Sir Astley Cooper. 
St. Thomas's is a series of enormous buildings, which is the 
character of most public institutions here ; its income is 
30,000/. per annum, and some hospitals have even more. 
Then he invited me to attend his clinical lecture ; so at 
the head of a large body of students, who had been peeping 
at me in every direction, I passed with him through ward 
after ward, men's and women's, the students preserving 
the most perfect order, though I could see that they were 
filled with the intensest curiosity. He gave me the fullest 
description of interesting cases, and made me examine 
several. He left his students to the house-surgeon, and 
accompanied me to the Barclay Brewery — an enormous 
affair, quite a national curiosity. It was here that the 
brutal Haynau, whilst visiting the place a short time ago, 
was mobbed by the men when they heard who had come 
amongst them, and barely escaped some very rough usage. 
My courteous escort left me in the kindliest manner, promis- 
ing me an introduction to the Bethlehem. While at St. 
Thomas's I received three invitations to post-mortems, to 
a lecture, and to the Ophthalmic Dispensary, all of which 
I was compelled to decline for want of time. 

At the brewery visitors enter their names. I set mine 
down without the M.D. ; Mr. South insisted on my adding 
it. I have been asked by physicians again and again if 
they shall call me doctor — they fully recognise my right. 
I always answer this question in the affirmative, as a matter 

Visits St. Thomas's Hospital 89 

of principle. I can hardly describe to you the difference 
of feeling with which I entered and left the hospital. We 
walked a couple of miles to dine with Mr. and Mrs. Charles 
T., an elegant household, though without the fetters of 
fashion ; they welcomed me most kindly. My two re- 
maining days will be very busy : I have two or three 
hospitals to visit and several people to see ; indeed, engage- 
ment treads upon engagement, so that I've hardly a 
moment to think. I thought such excitement would have 
bothered me intensely. It did at first bewilder, but now 
I've roused myself to meet it and I really enjoy it. I've 
never had such an experience ; I must have walked ten 
miles a day. I come home sometimes hardly able to move 
a foot ; I wash and dress, and in an hour I'm up again and 
fresh for as much more — the more I have to do, the more 
I can. I believe I've never yet begun to call out my power 
of working. 

The girl has just come in with my letters, passport, 
and papers by the " Europa "—what a good sight ! Bless 
you all ten thousand times ! My next letter will probably 
be from Paris. . . . 

... I have had a delightful visit to Hampstead, where 
Dr. Wilkinson lives. He received me at once with the 
greatest kindness and interest, introduced me to his wife, 
a very sweet woman, graceful and gentle, and to some 
very pretty black-eyed children. He was disappointed 
that my stay was so short ; told me I ought certainly to 
spend a year in London, that the longer he lived in it the 
more wonderful it seemed to him, that every idea was 
represented there not by a single individual but by a 
whole class, and that the societies I might study there 
would be of great service to me as a means of develop- 
ment. He is a tall, strong man, not handsome, wears 
spectacles, and has a strong expression of goodness in his 
face. He took me to see two people who were desirous 
of making my acquaintance, and showed me all the fine 
points of view from Hampstead, which truly is a most 
lovely spot, though only two miles from London. It is a 
hilly range, looking down on wide undulating country on 
both sides, with blue hills in the distance — Windsor 
Castle being distinctly visible twenty miles off. I cannot 
describe the place ; it seems to have built itself in one of 

90 Pioneer Work 

Nature's choicest nooks. There is a common covered 
with golden gorse, broken by little dells in which pretty 
cottages are nestled, and there are old mansions hidden 
in noble parks, old walls covered with luxuriant ivy, 
shady lanes with long avenues of trees and smooth hedges 
of hawthorn and laurel, fields covered with a rich carpet 
golden with buttercups and daisies, the cows quietly feeding 
in a veritable paradise to them. Then there are all manner 
of odd corners and irregular clusters of houses, but every- 
where the most intense vegetation. The little cottage 
occupied by Byron, who used often to resort to this lovely 
spot, was pointed out to me, and Harrow, where he went 
to school. We had much interesting conversation. In 
the omnibus I parted from the doctor with real regret, but 
quite refreshed by the cordial intercourse. 

Journey to Paris. — All my teachers and medical 
friends in America had strongly advised my going to 
Paris, as the one place where I should be able to find 
unlimited opportunities for study in any branch of 
the medical art. Being then desirous of pursuing 
surgery as well as medicine, I followed their advice. 
On May 21, 1849, with a very slender purse and few 
introductions of any value, I found myself in the un- 
known world of Paris, bent upon the one object of 
pursuing my studies, with no idea of the fierce political 
passions then smouldering amongst the people, nor 
with any fear of the cholera which was then threatening 
an epidemic. 

Curious glimpses of this outer world are given in 
letters sent home at that time. 

Paris, 11 Rue de Seine: May 1849. 
You see, dear friends, that I have reached my destina- 
tion at last, and fairly established myself in this strange 
city. I parted from my kind companion, who in London 
had spent the whole week in one continued effort to aid 
me in every possible way, with real gratitude. I could 
not thank him, words seemed too meaningless. ... I 
left London with the profoundest respect for the vast 
power of many kinds displayed there, and a grateful 

Journey to Paris 91 

remembrance of a personal reception that had been, so 
encouraging. It rained the whole way over. An English 
lady returning to Paris with her husband was very friendly. 
She promised to show me the best place to stay at in 
Calais, and said if I would travel with them in the cars she 
could give me much information about Paris, for the French 
made a point of cheating the English unmercifully, think- 
ing they were immensely wealthy. We were notified of 
our approach to Calais by a strong smell of fish. It was 
quite dark and raining in torrents ; I was very glad to have 
companions. We picked our way as well as we could over 
the stone pier, enclosed by walls on which stood a lighthouse 
glaring into the dark night. We stepped into the rooms 
where the passports are examined, and there the whiskered 
faces showed me I was amongst strangers, and the Oil 
allez-vous, madamc ? confirmed the fact. Next morning 
I stood for some time on the pier waiting for the Custom- 
house officer and watching the strange people. Market- 
women in their white caps (the common people wear no 
bonnet), groups of workmen in blue blouses, fish women 
of enormous muscular development, though short, return- 
ing from fishing laden with their nets, clad in a single 
petticoat scarcely reaching to the knee, little children 
with their school-books making sundry excursions on to 
the fishing-smacks by the way, and chattering French 
with all their might. At the Custom-house the search 
was very slight ; they did not even see the cases which I 
had put at the back of a larger trunk, and I was only 
charged a couple of francs. We left Calais at nine o'clock, 
and the difference between France and England was 
apparent the whole way. The country was no flatter 
than between Liverpool and Birmingham, but badly 
drained and badly cultivated, with many peat bogs and 
dwarf willows bordering the watercourses. There were 
many villages built of light-coloured stone, but apparently 
not one brisk, thriving town. The whole way wooden 
fences instead of beautiful live hedges, women digging 
trenches and working in the peat bogs, and the railroad 
left in the rough, unfinished style of America, without the 
excuse of an immense young country. At the Custom- 
house in Paris, where they search the trunks for butter 
and cheese, I parted from my travelling companions and 

92 Pioneer Work 

launched boldly into the sea of Paris. It looked very odd 
as I drove along ; the streets so narrow, with such odd, 
old-fashioned houses, all built of this light-coloured stone, 
which has no sort of expression. They charged extrava- 
gantly at the hotel where I passed the night, so I deter- 
mined at once to procure lodgings, and set off early next 
morning to hunt up Mr. Doherty, who I knew through Dr. 
Wilkinson would tell me the right quarter for medical 

I started off with a map in my hand and hope in my 
heart, and reached Mr. Doherty's house very early, I 
suppose, for Parisian hours, for the gentleman was in bed 
when my letters were handed in ; and soon after a short 
sleepy-looking man made his appearance, with a horrid 
coarse beard, a blue and red woollen dressing-gown, and 
green baize trousers hanging about his ankles. I had 
some difficulty in making him comprehend that I was 
not Anna. At last, however, with the help of letters and 
my explanations, all became clear. I found him very 
pleasant ; he breakfasted, dressed, &c, while I talked to 
his brother Thomas, who is a beautiful artist. Mr. D. 
went with me to some places he knew of. At last we 
found a little room with bedroom attached in a central 
situation and at a moderate rent. The hostess was a very 
pleasant-looking woman, with her own room close by, the 
whole suite being separated from the rest of the house. 
I felt, however, quite disappointed in the city ; it did not 
seem to me handsome, gay, or elegant after London ; but 
then, in truth, I was so busy settling my own little matters 
that I hardly had time to examine closely. To-day I 
have spent in walking about the city with my hostess, 
chiefly for the sake of chattering with her and accustoming 
my ear to the strange sounds, for I find I have much to 
learn. I have great trouble in expressing myself with any 
elegance, and I cannot see the physicians until I have 
acquired a tolerable command of words ; I shall very soon, 
however, be able to do so. I went out to buy a bonnet 
to-day, but found that my unfortunate organs were totally 
unable to squeeze themselves into a Parisian head-dress ; 
so I was obliged to order a bonnet, choosing plain grey 
silk, although I was assured again and again that nobody 
wore that colour. . . . 

Visit to Lamartine 93 

An interview with Lamartine. — At this period much 
sympathy was felt in America for the Republican 
movement in France, of which Lamartine was the 
head. Before leaving Philadelphia a friend had asked 
me to be the bearer of one of those expressions of 
sympathy from public meetings which were then sent 
to the poet from all parts of the United States. I 
willingly undertook the commission, and now wrote 
to the President for permission to present the docu- 
ment entrusted to me. 

May 31, 1849. 

I have just returned from my visit by appointment to 
Lamartine, where I went to deliver the Philadelphia 
resolution entrusted to me. I must hasten to give you a 
sketch before this post — the last — closes. 

Of course I dressed with great care, and arrived just 
at the appointed hour. I was asked if I was a lady from 
America, for Lamartine is to most people in the country. 
I was shown through several ante-chambers into a draw- 
ing-room, where stood the poet entertaining some visitors ; 
he bowed, requested me to wait a few moments, and 
withdrew with his visitors into another room. I examined 
the apartment : a lofty room, carved and richly gilded, 
three long windows opening on to a balcony commanding 
a garden full of trees. The room contained a rich carpet 
and purple velvet couches and chairs, some portraits, an 
exquisite female profile in bas-relief, a golden chandelier 
from the ceiling, some antique vases, &c, and a soft 
green light from the trees of the large garden diffused 
through the room. The door opened and Lamartine 
entered ; very tall and slender, but the most graceful man 
I have ever seen, every movement was music ; grey eyes 
and hair. The little bust is a pretty good likeness. He 
has the gentlemanly voice (Uncle Charles's), clear, melo- 
dious, perfectly well-bred. In fact, his exterior harmon- 
ised perfectly with his poetry. He understood English. 
Slowly and distinctly I explained the commission which 
had been entrusted to me. He asked me if the resolution 
referred to the fraternity of the race, and seemed to under- 
stand at once the whole matter when I replied in the 

94 Pioneer Work 

affirmative. I referred him to the letters accompanying 
the resolution for full explanation respecting the document 
and the manner of presenting it. He said he was very 
happy to receive these expressions of sympathy. He would 
read the letters carefully and send me an answer, which I 
promised to transmit to America. He accompanied me 
very politely to the stairs, bowed, and we parted. I was 
in no way disappointed ; there was perfect harmony in the 
man and his surroundings. Doubtless he is a true man, 
though unable to work into practice the great thoughts he 

I went last night with my good little hostess to a neigh- 
bouring church, where there is service every evening. It 
was well lighted round the central altar, but in every 
direction the lofty aisles stretched away into the darkness, 
with an occasional lamp illuminating some saint, and small 
groups of dark figures kneeling on the pavement. The 
people were assembled in the centre — mostly the lower 
classes, women in their white caps, and little children 
dressed like miniature women ; they knelt or stood, or 
sat on chairs and benches as the service required, generally 
with the utmost devotion. The little children used the 
holy water, crossed themselves, and knelt with their 
mothers, and regarded the bright lights, the flowers round 
the golden Virgin, and the impressive music with eager 
wondering faces. The service was sung or chanted entirely 
in Latin ; occasionally a pause in the music would be broken 
by the sudden, deep tones of a man's voice away in the 
darkness, or a choir of boys' voices would burst forth 
apparently from the clouds. The walls were covered with 
enormous pictures partially illuminated. I felt fully the 
impressiveness of this scene to the uneducated people ; no 
thought awakened, but the emotional religious sentiment 
powerfully addressed ; and this every night, when the 
solemn ceremonial contrasts so strongly and soothingly 
with the traffic of the day. The children are nursed in this 
atmosphere until it becomes a part of their nature that no 
reasoning can ever change. 

My first introduction to Paris institutions was 
through the visit of a public official, who brought a 
registration paper to be filled up. I put myself down 

Police Visit 95 

as Etudiante. The man stared, and then standing in 
front of me began to make the most extraordinary 
grimaces, opening his eyes until the whites showed 
all round them. My first astonished thought was — 
" You ugly little brute, what on earth are you doing 
that for ? ' when, his manner suddenly changing on 
my look of astonishment, he tapped me benevolently 
on the shoulder, saying, " Mon enfant, you must not 
put yourself down as student — rentiere is the word 
you must use ! " 

In later life, with larger experience, I came to the 
conclusion that I had been interviewed by the Police 
des Mceurs ! Fortunately at that time I knew nothing 
of the corrupt system of accepting and regulating 
female vice. 

My next important interview was of a very different 
character. A Boston friend had procured for me, 
from a physician, an introduction to the famous 
Louis, then at the height of his reputation. It was a 
sealed introduction, which I forwarded with my card. 
The next day a tall, imposing-looking gentleman 
called upon me, who proved to be Louis himself. I 
soon felt instinctively that his visit was one of inspec- 
tion. I told him frankly of my earnest desire for 
hospital and practical instruction. After a long con- 
versation he most strongly advised me to enter La 
Maternite, where in one most important branch I 
could in a short time obtain more valuable practical 
knowledge than could be obtained anywhere else, and 
he informed me of the steps to be taken in order to 
obtain admission. Before leaving, however, M. Louis 
handed to me the letter of introduction which I had 
sent to him, saying that he thought I ought to see it. 
It was an astounding production, written in such 
wretched French that I could only suppose that its 
author was unaware of its insulting character, or of 
the effect that such a letter delivered to a French 
gentleman by a young unknown woman was likely to 

96 Pioneer Work 

produce. I never again presented a sealed letter of 
introduction. Some years later, when the distinguished 
physician who had sent it called upon me in New York, 
I returned the letter to him, with a few words of very 
serious remonstrance. 

On June 1 one of my sisters and a friend came to 
Paris, and we moved into pleasant lodgings in the Rue 
de Fleurus overlooking the Luxembourg Garden. 
Whilst there I attended lectures at the College de 
France and the Jardin des Plantes, and earnestly 
sought for admission to some of the hospitals for 
practical instruction. It seemed, however, that an 
entrance into La Maternite would be the most direct 
first step in obtaining the practical instruction needed, 
and although regretting the delay in my surgical 
studies which would be involved in such a course, I 
finally resolved to pursue the courses of that great 

The following letters refer to this period of effort : — 

My dear Cousin, — I find that I cannot enter the 
Maternite at present for want of an acte de naissance. I 
am trying to get over the difficulty, but French regula- 
tions are so strict that it is still uncertain whether I can 
succeed. Would it be possible to secure in Bristol a 
copy of my register of baptism, with a statement of my 
birthday and my parents, certified by the mayor or some 
proper authority ? I was baptised at Bridge Street by 
Mr. Leifchild ; I was born on February 3, 1821. I do not 
know, however, whether such a register is kept in England. 
If it could be procured, it would remove the difficulty 
which lies in my way. 

We find Paris a very lively residence ; every day some- 
thing new is occurring, or we discover some wonderful 
old place which we must certainly visit. One day it is 
the funeral celebrations of Marshal Bugeaud, at which 
all the great men assist, with an army of soldiers and an 
enormous crowd ; or a thousand little girls take their first 
communion at St. Sulpice, dressed in white with long 
veils ; or some grand collection of flowers or manufactured 

Sights of Paris 97 

articles calls out the spectacle-loving people. There is a 
constant effervescence of life in this great city, which con- 
centrates all its energy in itself, and makes the Parisians at 
the same time the most brilliant and the most conceited 
people in the world. The greatest pleasure which we have 
yet enjoyed was our trip last Sunday to Versailles ; it is 
really a place to be proud of, and I could not wonder at 
the worship which is paid to that beautiful temple by the 
people who, day after clay, range freely through its grand 
galleries and spacious gardens. 

I i-eceived to-day a very pleasant letter from Dr. Webster, 
one of our professors at Geneva ; I was much gratified to 
find that their course to me has been approved by the 
profession in America. It would have grieved me inex- 
pressibly if they had been condemned for the aid they had 
given me, and there seemed to be some possibility of it 
when I left. But he tells me my thesis was commented on 
in the Report on Medicine at the National Medical Conven- 
tion held in Boston, and their course in relation to me 
justified and approved. The thesis was received with 
applause. This information is quite a relief to me, for the 
thought would be too painful that you could injure your 

June 15 

Dear Cousin, — By the first of July, as soon as I have 
conquered some miserable little difficulties, such as the 
acte de naissance, certificate of vaccination, &c, which I 
cannot produce, I shall enter La Maternite, a world-famous 
institution, and remain until I have succeeded in my 
first object — viz. to become an accomplished obstetrician. 
There are personal objections connected with this course 
that I was not prepared for — viz. a strict imprisonment, 
very poor lodging and food, some rather menial services, 
and the loss of three or four nights' sleep every week. 
Still, these are things that can be borne (if the health will 
stand them) when the end to be gained is an important 
one ; and I am sure you will agree with me that it is wise 
to sacrifice physical comfort for a while in order to 
attain it. I propose to remain there three months, and 
then I shall try and accomplish [my second object — viz. 


98 Pioneer Work 

I hope in a day or two to receive permission from the 
Directeur-General, M. Davenne, to examine all the hospitals 
of Paris. I am working on gradually ; but I find more 
clearly every day that the genius of the French nation does 
not suit me, and my love for the Anglo-Saxon race, and 
my admiration for our wonderful Fatherland, increase by 
the comparison. . . . 

We have had a strange glimpse of a revolution, a sort 
of theatrical representation of what that terrible thing 
might be. I confess that the whole exhibition seemed 
to me peculiarly French ; and yet there are noble and 
terrible passions, lying below this mercurial excitability, 
that command hearty sympathy or serious consideration, 
and the unjust, tyrannical acts of the Government excite 
one's strongest indignation. Now all is quiet again, how- 
ever, and the whole affair is said to have been planned 
by the authorities to get rid of certain troublesome 

A. and E. have stood the shock well, though they 
turned quite pale on finding as they were quietly parading 
the streets that they were in the midst of an emeute, and 
later I was sent out to see if they had not better instantly 
return to England, before civil war broke out and their 
throats were cut. . . . 

On the afternoon of the 13th E. and I went out to see 
the curious sight. The Ouai to the National Assembly, 
more than a mile long, was lined with soldiers with their 
drawn bayonets. The Louvre and the Tuileries opposite 
were closed and filled with soldiers. An army of cavalry 
was mounted and ready to start at any moment. We 
passed through hun^dng crowds full of excitement, hear- 
ing fearful reports of what had happened and what was to 
come. On the bridges, at the corners of the streets, were 
large groups of blouses, students, citizens, women, listen- 
ing to some orator of the moment, gesticulating violently. 
More than once I observed a woman enthusiastically 
haranguing an audience. The most curious mixture of 
passions was visible on the faces — fear, anger, indignation, 
hope, hatred ; there was many a figure that realised the 
horrors of an earlier revolution. It seems inconceivable 
now that those violent expressions should have died away, 
and that Paris is going on in its usual busy way. 

Threatened Revolution 99 

June 1S49. 
■ My Friends, one and all, — I closed my last letter 
apparently on the eve of a great insurrection. I went 
out with E. G. quickly to put it in the post, not knowing 
how soon we might be prisoners in the house or stirring 
out at the risk of life. We passed through hurrying crowds 
full of excitement. Through the night heavy waggons of 
ammunition and provisions, escorted by soldiers, had 
rumbled through the streets. The public squares were 
shut and filled with soldiers. The Democratic press was 
destroyed ; and the next morning the city was declared 
in a state of siege, and a proclamation was published by 
the President calling on all good citizens to maintain the 
authority of the law. 

But nothing occurred, the commotion subsided, and 
the Conservative press congratulated the country on its 
preservation from the dangerous conspiracy of a few 
seditious demagogues. 

It is difficult to get at the truth in a country where 
everybody lies upon principle ; but it is now commonly 
believed that the whole affair was a trick of the Govern- 
ment to get rid of Ledru Rollin, Considerant, and other 
troublesome members of the Montagne, who were deter- 
mined to call the President to account for his infamous 
conduct to the poor Romans. 

I do not know whether American papers give these 
particulars — you must tell me if I repeat what you can 
get better elsewhere — but we have taken deep interest in 
these events passing round us. Our indignation is much 
roused against the Conservative tyranny ; and the belief 
in the Government trick shows, curiously enough, of what 
it may be capable. 

A manifestation meeting was called, to support by 
general feeling the attack which had been made by the 
advanced party in the Assembly on the unconstitutional 
measures of the President in suppressing popular gather- 
ings. Two hundred thousand men were passing quietly 
to the place of meeting, some of the most respectable 
and distinguished citizens of Paris amongst them, not 
the slightest disturbance, not even one " Vive la Constitu- 
tion ! " was heard ; but a proclamation had been stuck 

ioo Pioneer Work 

about the streets, of the most inflammatory character, call- 
ing the citizens to arms, and signed by Considerant and 
Ledru Rollin. On the strength of that proclamation, 
which is fully believed to have been a forgery, the " meet- 
ing " was dispersed and proceedings instituted against the 
members. The Government is proceeding with a high 
hand. I see that to-day even the Conservative press is 
putting in a feeble protest. 

You would be amused to see how universally politics 
are discussed : the boy who arranged our rooms, the 
market-women at their stalls, everyone finds time to read 
a journal and give some opinion about it. 

On June 30 I entered La Maternite ; my residence 
there was an invaluable one at that stage of the 
medical campaign, when no hospitals, dispensaries, or 
practical cliniques were open to women. La Maternite 
was a great State institution, where young women to 
be trained as midwives were sent up from every 
department of France. The system of instruction, 
both theoretical and practical, was a remarkable 
illustration of that genius for organisation which 
belongs to the French. Every moment of time was 
appropriated ; no distraction of books, newspapers, 
or other than medical works were allowed ; lectures, 
wardwork, drills, and cliniques were arranged from 
morning to night with no confusion, but no pause ; 
and the comprehension and progress of each pupil was 
constantly tested by examination. 

The institution occupied the old convent of Port 
Royal, and the discipline was monastic in simplicity, 
regularity, and seclusion. 

Stirring events were occurring in Paris during my 
residence in the Maternite, but only vague rumours 
reached us, as no newspapers were allowed within the 
old grey convent walls. 

The following letters give curious pictures of life in 
this remarkable French institution. 

Admitted to the Maternite 101 

July i, 1849 : a la Maternite. 
Dear Mother, — I have now entered upon a strange 
phase of life, which I must try and describe, that you 
may imagine me running about in my great white apron, 
in which respectable article of apparel I expect to figure 
for the next three months. I had a good many obstacles 
to encounter from my ignorance of French customs ; 
and the physicians of Paris, as far as I can judge, are 
determined not to grant the slightest favour to a feminine 
M.D. I could not obtain from any persons connected with 
the Maternite the smallest modification to suit the very 
different status with which I enter from the young French 
sages-femmes ; but I was determined to enter on whatever 
conditions, and enter, too, by the first of July, to habituate 
myself a little to the ways of the place before the annual 
lectures commenced. I find now that nothing would have 
been easier than to have given me a little room to myself, 
permission to go out occasionally, and similar favours, 
which need have occasioned no jealousy or inconvenience ; 
for the very fact of my being a foreigner impresses the 
French girls, and they would freely have accepted any 
claim made for me. But everything was obstinately refused 
to all the representations of myself or the Consul, Mr. 
Walsh, and I was only too glad to enter as a young, ignorant 
French girl. On June 30 I drove down with Anna to the 
hospital. A high stone wall, with the tops of old buildings 
peeping above, extends nearly the whole length of a little 
street. A very small door led into a dark little entrance, 
the portiere on one side, and a long room, called by courtesy 
the parloir, on the other. You must notice the parloir, for 
it is there I shall receive my visitors, if I ever have any, at 
two o'clock, in common with the other eleves ; and there 
in one corner, in a sort of little glass box, sits the good dame 
who attends to the letters and transacts all the outdoor 
business for the Sieves. The ceiling is very low, the floor 
of brick, rows of wooden benches ranged one before the 
other — the most uninteresting room you can possibly con- 
ceive ; the only pretty thing being the vine leaves which 
peep through the diamond-shaped windows. This room 
forms part of a row of old buildings standing against the 
wall, which contain the director's bureau, the interne's 

102 Pioneer Work 

rooms, &.c. It was too late for me to see M. Boivin, the 
director, so an old woman took me into the central buildings, 
through a labyrinth of little passages and long galleries, 
and all manner of rooms and queer places, to Madame 
Charrier, the sage-femme in chief, who has her own rooms 
in a particular part of the building. Her parlour is the 
funniest little cabinet of curiosities, with a carpet on the 
floor, as it is of brick instead of waxed wood. Little chintz 
sofas, mosaic tables, boxes, china and figures, crucifixes, 
pictures and embroideries, and curtains everywhere. 
Madame Charrier is a little deformed woman, elderly, but 
with a fresh colour still, and kind blue eyes. I like what 
I have seen of her ; she seems generally loved by the pupils, 
and though I do not imagine her of any particular amount 
of intellect, she seems to have good sense, and after twelve 
years in such an establishment as this she ought to have 
much valuable experience. Madame Charrier conducted 
me by unknown ways to Madame Blockel, the superin- 
tendent of the dortoirs, who took me into the infirmary, 
and said I must sleep there until I had arranged my affairs 
with the director. I did not much admire the idea of 
passing the night in the infirmary. There was a large 
wood fire on the hearth, and the air felt warm and some- 
what close. I looked suspiciously at the long rows of 
beds extending on each side, their white curtains closely 
drawn ; I did not know what undesirable emanations 
might be proceeding from them. However, I said nothing, 
but determined to investigate the contents of the beds as 
soon as the observers had withdrawn. My trunk was 
brought up, my bed pointed out, a little lamp placed on the 
table, and I was left alone. I proceeded then to make my 
observations, and found to my great relief that every bed 
was empty, except one, in which one of the eleves, who 
happened to have a headache, was lying, and from her I 
found that the place is healthy and no epidemic has pre- 
vailed there for a long time. I found her, like all the other 
French girls, full of those light kindnesses which are so 
pleasant. She asked me eagerly if I was from her province, 
and seemed to regard me with much interest when she 
found I was a stranger from New York, which was the only 
part of the United States she had heard of, and which she 
took to be an island near Havannah. I have since found 

In the Maternite 103 

that the pupils are much disappointed that I am not black, 
as they supposed all persons from America were ! After 
talking a little with her I took out my writing materials, 
and sat down to the table determining to pay a little visit 
across the water before going to rest in my new home ; 
but I had no sooner seated myself than Madame Charrier 
entered with a crowd of Sieves, to know if I would pass 
the night in the salle d'accouchements, it being an optional 
matter the first night. Of course I expressed the utmost 
willingness. I put up my letter with a sigh, dressed my- 
self for duty, and accompanied an ancienne Sieve (that 
is, one who has already studied a year, and who always 
has one or more of the nouvellcs Sieves under her care for 
initiation) to the room where the children are born. A 
large apron of coarse towelling was given me, with the 
injunction not to lose it, or I should have to pay three 
francs. It was a large upper room, rather dimly lighted, 
beds all round, a fire on the hearth, cupboards full of 
linen in the corners, heaps of shining copper and tin utensils, 
several rush-bottomed chairs and wooden tables, and in the 
centre a large wooden stand with sides, on which the little 
new-comers, tightly swathed and ticketed, are ranged side 
by side. In the course of the night we had the pleasure of 
arranging eight in this way, and the next morning when 
Madame Charrier made her appearance the cloth was 
removed and the sight shown with much triumph. It was 
really very droll. Each little shapeless red visage peeped 
from under a coarse peaked cap, on the front of which was 
a large label with the name and sex ; a black serge jacket 
with a white handkerchief pinned across, and a small blanket 
tightly folded round the rest of the body, completed the 
appearance of the little mummy. Their behaviour certainly 
realised Fourier's supposition, for there was very little 
crying all the time they lay there together. There were 
four young French girls sitting up with me, besides the 
girl who makes the beds and does the roughest work. 
They were all pretty and pleasant, of no education except 
their studies in the institution ; but those had been evi- 
dently carefully attended to, and it sounded not a little 
droll to hear the scientific terms flowing so glibly from 
their laughing lips, which were busily employed in talk- 
ing nonsense all the time that their duties did not call 

104 Pioneer Work 

them to the bedside. The next morning at ten o'clock 
we were discharged from duty ; it was Sunday, a com- 
paratively leisure day, and I being a Protestant was ex- 
cused from the religious services, but I was too sleepy to 
do much. I wrote, walked in the garden and read a little 
there, retired early, and had a most welcome sleep and 
very pleasant dreams. 

Our dortoir is a large airy room, with a row of windows 
and beds on each side, divided into two by a large 
archway ; it contains sixteen beds, occupied mostly by 
anciennes eleves. I have a window behind my bed ; I have 
shoved the bed forward, fitted in a chair behind, hung up 
my dressing-gown, and put a few books on the floor by my 
side, and call it my room. I am now sitting there writing 
to you. I have just room enough to move my right arm 
freely, but I am out of the way, I am breathing fresh air, 
so I consider myself very well off. An old crucifix orna- 
mented by gilded leaves hangs at one end of the dortoir, 
two little lamps are suspended from the ceiling, an iron 
bedstead and a chair are appropriated to each individual. 
The floor is formed of little hexagon bricks, which in some 
of the rooms are so terribly polished that I walk on them 
with difficulty. The dortoir is seldom quiet ; the girls sit 
there a good deal, and some who have watched through the 
night are generally there in bed ; and how French girls 
do chatter ! How they do go into sudden fits of ecstasy or 
rage ! Once at least in the day we have a grand storm, 
Madame Blockel coming in for some trouble or other, in 
which she and the accused out-scream each other, and 
appear to be mortal enemies for a few minutes, and the 
best of friends immediately after. At twelve o'clock we 
receive our supply of bread for the day, which we keep in 
our bedroom and take backwards and forwards to meals. I 
have frequently wished that you could see me walking 
gravely along the gallery with my loaf of bread wrapped in 
a napkin under my arm. The dining-room is a large hall 
full of round tables, only three of which are occupied at 
present, as the eleves only number thirty, instead of ninety, 
the usual number. At dinner I saw them all together for 
the first time ; some very pretty and graceful, some very 
rough. I am learning to take wine ; everyone advises me 
to do so, and I shall soon be able to drink my bottle a day. 

In the Maternite 105 

There seems to be an admirable organisation of work 
here in every department. I have been much amused to- 
day by the lessons in theory that I have received from 
my ancienne Sieve or chef. The pupils all sat round, and 
the young instructress, furnished with some bones, gave 
out an explanatory sentence, which was repeated by each 
one in turn ; I found it an excellent plan of learning 
French. Of course, the repetition would have been intoler- 
able without the language, but to listen to a dozen different 
voices and to repeat myself I found to be admirable 
practice ; indeed, being cut off from all English communica- 
tion is a great advantage in learning French. 

July 3. — This morning I finish my letter in another 
situation. I wrote last night till it was dark, and the 
little lamp in our dortoir gave so much darkness that I 
went to bed for want of light. To-day I am en service — 
that is to say, I shall spend the day from eight in the 
morning till eight in the evening in superintending the 
six rooms of the infirmary. I have been handling leeches 
for the first time (disgusting little things). I enter with 
an ancienne Sieve, who shows me all the ways of the house. 
At present the lectures have not commenced, but the 
visits of Madame Charrier and the physician take place 
every day ; and nature is always here in great abundance 
to be studied. I feel I shall gain a great deal, and hitherto 
it has really not proved nearly so formidable an imprison- 
ment as I supposed. The air is delightful this beautiful 
summer weather, the girls pleasant. There is much to 
interest in so large an establishment, and I suppose the 
three months will soon slip away, for I have entered, in my 
own mind, only for the three months, though I have been 
asked so often if I am going to stay two years that I have 
had to tell a great many — evasions. I shall have, doubtless, 
many weary moments, but I want you all to know that it 
will not be so utterly miserable as my former letters may 
have represented it. And great will be the reward ! So 
send a welcoming greeting to the Voluntary Prisoner. 

July 1849. 
Dear M., — I last wrote to you when I was my own 
mistress ; now in some measure I have given up my liberty, 
and I must give you a little sketch of my prison life, that 

io6 Pioneer Work 

you may be able to picture the surroundings of your sister 
M.D. Imagine a large square of old buildings, formerly a 
convent, set down in the centre of a great court with a 
wood and garden behind, and many little separate buildings 
all around, the whole enclosed by very high walls, over the 
tops of which, shining out beautifully against the clear 
sky, may be seen the dome of the Pantheon, the Hotel des 
Invalides, and the whole building of the observatory which 
is close adjoining. The inner court is surrounded by les 
cloUres, a most convenient arched passage which gives a 
covered communication to the whole building, and which 
I suppose was formerly traversed by shaven monks on their 
way to the church, whose great painted window looks out 
into the court, but which now echoes the laughter of 
many merry girls, and across which at half-past seven 
every morning you may see your humble servant with 
her coarse tablier de service and little white pot in hand 
hurrying to get some coffee. At half-past five every 
morning I start up in bed, roused by the bustle of the 
Sieves, who are up before me. I make violent efforts to 
drive away sleep, which are only partially successful, and 
then follow the example of twenty girls who inhabit the 
same long dortoir, and who are busy each by her own 
iron bedstead dressing hastily to be ready for the visit. 
I hasten upstairs to the long corridor, the Sainte-Elisa- 
beth, where my patients lie. I inquire carefully their 
condition, wash them, and see that the beds have been 
properly arranged. By that time it is a quarter-past six ; 
Madame Charrier makes her appearance and goes the 
rounds, accompanied by the eleves, each one giving a 
short report of the patients under her care. It is a funny 
group : fifty women or more of all ages, wide awake from 
the hurry of their duties, but dressed mostly in haste 
with little white caps, coloured handkerchiefs, and the 
coarser ones in short bed-gowns, their faces browned by 
the sun, their hands red with hard work, but all good- 
tempered, with a kind word always ready, and their black 
eyes sparkling with life. We pass through the Salles 
Sainte-Marguerite, Sainte-Elisabeth, Sainte-Anne, visiting 
each patient in her alcove — it is seven when we finish. I 
hasten back to my dortoir, make my bed, &c, fetch my 
coffee, which I procure for two sous a morning from the 

In the Maternite 107 

superintendent of the infirmary, eat it hastily with my 
bread, which is always supplied for the day at noon, and 
then hurry off to the Salles Sainte-Marie and Sainte- 
Marthe, where the more sick patients are placed, whom the 
attending physicians visit every morning at eight. At this 
visit are present M. Girardin, the chief physician, a tall, 
dry, grey-haired man, full of pomposity ; the interne, 
M. Blot, a very handsome, somewhat dignified young 
physician, with, I fancy, rather a cross temper ; Madame 
Charrier, the aide- sage- femme, and as many of the Sieves 
as choose to be present. This over, I make some inde- 
pendent visits to cases which interest me, to the nursery, 
&c, and try to pick up a little here and there ; then I 
return to the dortoir and read or write a little. After- 
wards I join the class instruction in the wood, a preparatory 
lesson which the elder Sieves give to the younger ones, and 
which I attend for the sake of the French. It is a very 
pretty method of instruction : the young teacher seated 
on the grass, all the pupils grouped around under the 
thick shade of some fine tree, the atmosphere being of 
an elastic purity which is truly charming. The French 
girls have a natural talent for instruction ; they are so in 
the habit of talking that they never find the slightest 
difficulty in expressing what they know, and their lively 
perceptions give them a peculiar power for superficial 
instruction. Our poor country girls find it very hard at 
first to catch scientific words that they do not understand, 
but in a surprisingly short time they roll them off smoothly 
and to a certain extent understand well what is taught them. 
At twelve the bell sounds for the first meal, only milk 
being given at seven o'clock. We enter a large hall, full 
of round tables, each holding twelve ; to each are furnished 
a couple of white plates, a tumbler and small bottle of 
wine, a loaf of bread, a spoon and fork. The meal con- 
sists of soup, boiled meat, and vegetables ; it is eaten in 
haste to the music of Madame Blockel's voice, which 
keeps up a storm the whole time. She is a somewhat 
important personage, superintending our meals and our 
dortoirs ; she is a little red-faced, squint-eyed being, with 
tremendous projecting teeth, and dressed always in rusty 
black with a black cap. She is good-natured, liked by 
the girls, but has a tremendous vocal organ, which is 

108 Pioneer Work 

always sounding forth at its highest pitch. Morning, 
noon, and night good Madame Blockers voice drowns 
all opposing sounds ; and really now I am getting as used 
to it as to a noisy street, and would not care if only she 
would keep out of the dortoir at night when I am sleepy, 
for, like a barking dog, she sets all the girls going, and I 
don't know when the storm subsides, for I sink to sleep 
in spite of it. When the meal is over we present a funny 
sight, each carrying off her loaf, napkin, knife, and various 
bottles and remnants of dinner. I return to the dortoir, do 
up little matters, read or attend the class again, visit my 
patients in the corridor, and from two to three go to the 
parloir to see my friends, if they are so good as to come 
at that hot hour to see me. This parloir is a funny affair — ■ 
a plain room, filled with wooden benches, where all manner 
of rough people are assembled to visit the Sieves. On certain 
days, also, in one corner a woman establishes a little shop, 
where she supplies all the small wants of the girls in the 
way of haberdashery, stationery, perfumery, &c. ; and in 
another corner sits the old lady, la dame du bureau, observ- 
ing everything, and giving the signal precisely at three for 
the departure of everybody. At six a second meal is 
served, consisting of roast meat and some little kind of 
cake, and another bottle of wine ; afterwards we are free 
to do as we choose. I generally sit a little in the wood and 
write till it is dark ; in a few days, however, the lectures 
commence, and four or five hours will be occupied in that 
way. I have described my idle, or rather my free days. 
When I am en service I spend the whole day in the ward 
where I am placed ; or the night, if I happen to be on night 
service. About three or four days are thus spent, and 
after passing the night in watching I am not worth much 
the next day, for I am not yet accustomed to the duty. 
Then little extra touches come in to diversify the day. I 
pay a visit to Madame Charrier or to Mile. Mallet, one 
of the aides- sage-femmes, whom I like very much, or some 
difficult operation calls us to the amphitheatre. Next 
week I shall be able to tell you how I like the lectures ; 
we shall have several each day, and I hope they will 
supply the want which I now feel of an intelligent explana- 
tion of the phenomena which I observe. 

August. — The lectures have now commenced. From 

In the Maternite 109 

seven to eight Madame Charrier gives her lesson every 
morning ; I occupy a chair beside her in consideration of 
my foreignness, she being anxious that I should under- 
stand thoroughly. I wish I could describe that lesson 
to you ; it is the must curious spurring-up of pupils I 
ever saw, and really it makes some of them gallop ad- 
mirably, though many tumble down in the effort. Three 
pupils are called down every morning, seated on a long 
bench in front of Madame Charrier's table, and undergo 
an hour's examination on what they have heard from the 
teachers. If they answer promptly and well, her satis- 
faction is extreme, her face grows beautiful, and her 
" Bien ! ties bien ! " really does me good, it is so hearty ; 
but if an unlucky pupil hesitate, if she speak too low, if 
intelligence or attention be wanting, then breaks forth 
the most admirable scolding I ever listened to. Alter- 
nately satirical and furious, she becomes perfectly on fire, 
rises upon her chair, claps her hands, looks up to heaven, 
and the next moment, if a good answer has redeemed the 
fault, all is forgotten, her satisfaction is as great as her 
anger. There is not the slightest wickedness about her ; 
she puts her whole soul into her lesson, and does not 
realise how very difficult it is for ignorant girls to study a 
science. At first I was a little shocked at this stormy 
instruction, but really it seems almost necessary now, 
and produces wonderful results. If the girls only keep 
their temper under it and do not cry, it comes right at 
last ; but a tear is an unpardonable offence, and con- 
sidered an insult and a total misunderstanding. Madame 
Charrier is a woman of great experience and always speaks 
to the point, and her lessons are often very useful. From 
nine till ten we listen to M. Paul Dubois. I like his lectures 
exceedingly. A little, bald, grey-haired man, with a clear, 
gentle voice and a very benevolent face, he thoroughly 
understands his subject, and expresses himself with pre- 
cision and completeness. 

At a little after twelve our dinner-bell rings, and right 
glad I always am to hear it. The large round tables are 
speedily encircled, all stand up, and a grace is said with such 
rapidity that to this day I can make out no words but 
saint usage, and the sign of the cross made with wonderful 
dexterity on the forehead and breast. At the conclusion 

no Pioneer Work 

of the meal another prayer rocket is sent up, amidst laugh- 
ing and bustle, and all crowd out of the hall, with their 
loaves of bread under their arms and all manner of odd little 
pots full of eatables in their hands. From one till two 
another lesson in the amphitheatre — which, fortunately, 
is a pleasant room — from the second aide-sage- femme, a 
lesson useful on the whole, but sometimes a little wearisome. 
From two to three is the hour for receiving visitors, but 
if I am not expecting a visit, and if I have sat up the 
preceding night, I take a bath— for there are six baths pre- 
pared every day at that hour for the Sieves. The same com- 
munism exists in the baths as in everything else. They are 
side by side, in a double row, down the middle of the room ; 
and the withered genius of the bathroom stands, observing 
every movement, and talking an incomprehensible patois 
the whole time. I try to imagine it is only the bubbling of 
water that I hear ; I shut my eyes, lie quietly for half an 
hour, and fancy that I am deliciously reposing on the 
heaving waters of some soft summer lake ; then I spring up, 
take a cold dash, to the horror of my companions, and hurry 
off as fast as possible, really the better for the divine 
element. . . . 

Were I a good Catholic I should find my time filled 
with visits to the chapel — morning and evening prayers, 
vespers, and the daily baptisms are regular services, with 
numerous extras on saints' days, &c. ; but most happily 
I am Protestant, and again and again I have blessed 
Heaven for the fact. The great fat, red-faced priest 
occasionally leaves the retirement of his clerical dwelling 
and strolls in the wood, or makes a visit to the infirmary ; 
he always gives me long stares of excessive curiosity 
when I pass him, but I have taken a great dislike to his 
sensual-looking worship, and will not give him the slightest 
opportunity to make my acquaintance. . . . 

After dinner, when fine, I generally go into our wood, 
and, seating myself under my favourite tree, I write till 
it grows dark ; or I stroll up and down the broad alleys, 
sending my thoughts far off into the past or the future. 
It is very pleasant in our wood ; outside the walls are 
large gardens and public walks, so that the air is very 
fresh, and the beauty of the Parisian summer climate is 
extreme. Sometimes my friendly aide joins me, for she 

Hymns to the Virgin 1 1 1 

cannot bear to see me alone ; it seems to the French a 
sign of deplorable melancholy. She walks with me, 
chatting gaily, and bearing my clumsy French with great 
patience ; for, as I said, she has taken a fancy to me, and 
I have to welcome with a good grace the pinches, shakes, 
and similar tokens of French affection. Fortunately, 
however, it shows itself in more satisfactory ways also, 
and I owe many an opportunity for interesting observa- 
tion to her kindness. The girls look picturesque in the 
wood by the sunset light. Sometimes a group is seated 
on the grass round its chief, eagerly taking in the instruc- 
tion that may aid it in the next day's examination ; others 
are singing or playing ; but I think I have never seen one 
engaged by herself in meditation or work. Their character 
is eminently social, communicative. Mr. Doherty remarked 
wisely that vanity, in its wildest sense, is their ruling spirit, 
which makes it impossible for them to understand the 
English, where pride rules. There is one young girl I like 
to talk with. I have never seen anything more graceful, 
lively, and finished than the little pictures of life which she 
throws off with perfect ease ; every motion of her pretty 
little head, every gesture and intonation is perfect, and 
occasionally I am really startled by a profound view of life 
that she just glances at, and then is off again. I would 
give much to be able to note down some of her narrations, 
but when I try to turn them into another language their 
exquisite spirit seems to vanish. . . . 

You must not be surprised if my letter contains an 
immense number of perplexed parentheses, and has a 
tendency to return always to the same subject. If you 
could only hear " what hideous sounds salute mine ear," 
you would not wonder. The girls are singing hymns to 
the Virgin in an adjoining room, and really, if the Virgin 
be a lady of as much taste as beauty according to the 
representations of Raphael, she must be considerably 
annoyed by the zeal without knowledge displayed by her 
admirers. Our second aide-sage- femme is a very pious 
young Catholic, of really a sweet disposition. A week 
or two ago, on the commencement of the month of Mary, 
she assembled the girls together, reminded them of the 
season, and proposed to meet frequently in the evening and 
sing canticles in honour of the Lady, adding that un- 

112 Pioneer Work 

doubtedly the object of their attention would be gratified 
by this demonstration and would not be unmindful of 
those who offered the homage. The proposition was re- 
ceived with enthusiasm, and since that unlucky day Mile. 
Boisonnet and her followers have exercised their lungs in 
season and out of season, to the horror of all my nerves 
and, I fear, to the serious displeasure of the Virgin. They 
have numerous little books of canticles. I looked over the 
index the other day — " Who so pure as she ? " " The bright- 
ness of her presence," " Mary, pray for us," and all such 
titles filled the pages. The tunes have a striking resem- 
blance to American camp-meeting hymns. There is one 
which was certainly the original ot " Oh, let us be joyful." 
I often think, if H. were only here, how he would join in 
honouring the Virgin. ... 

I must give you a few more sketches of my present life. 
Imagine, then, that you have retired early to bed, after a 
night spent in hard work, and the day in that nervous 
mystification that follows loss of rest. You have taken a 
refreshing bath and laid yourself down, encircled by dear 
memories that fan you to sleep with their gentle dreams ; 
you have just entered that beautiful dreamland, when you 
are suddenly startled by a scream, a burst of laughter, and 
then the vision of one white-robed form darting past in the 
twilight, pursued by a similar form, mysterious to your 
veiled senses. The chase continues over beds and boxes, 
while shouts of laughter, followed by a shower of small 
articles, proceed from the other beds ; then a loud smack 
is heard, whose nature is easily divined by those who are 
at all familiar with juvenile offenders, a spring from the 
bed and a rush by the injured party follow ; but still you 
resolutely shut your eyes and will yourself asleep, in the 
fond hope that nature is really too tired to keep awake, 
when a sudden rolling sound, followed by a violent shock, 
at once convinces you of the vanity of your efforts, and you 
resign yourself to wakefulness, for a favourite amusement 
has commenced — they are " promenading the bedsteads " ! 
You must know that our bedsteads are of iron, and placed 
on rollers so movable that a slight impulsion will speed 
them a considerable distance. Often in stepping into bed 
the slight movement has caused the mercurial article to 
describe a sudden semicircle. This property of these usually 

Fun in the Maternite 113 

sober pieces of furniture is taken advantage of by the girls, 
who are now in a frolic and exercising in the most ingenious 
way, to the unspeakable annoyance of a quiet individual. 
An impulsion is given to one end of a long row of beds, 
which is quickly communicated to the whole row, or a 
simultaneous shock is given to the two extremities and 
their force brought to bear on the unfortunate centre. 
But the favourite freak is to place a bedstead at the end of 
the room and drive it with great violence down the centre. 
The rolling noise over the brick floor is tremendous, and 
accompanied by a regular Babel of laughter, shouting, and 
jokes of every description. Some get on top of their beds, 
which consist of three thick mattresses, and jump up and 
down like mad things ; others get up a wild dance in one 
corner of the room, which grows continually faster and 
noisier, and the strife of tongues is truly astonishing. Their 
jokes are really amusing occasionally ; the scientific terms 
that they hear daily plaj' a conspicuous part. The frolic 
ends as suddenly as it began, when, fairly full of fun, they 
suddenly jump into bed, say good-night, and in five minutes 
all are sound asleep. The first night I was thus rudely 
awakened I was much inclined to be angry, but I philoso- 
phised a little and came to the conclusion that it was my 
voluntary action to be there, and that youthful spirits must 
have free play. I pitied the poor children in their un- 
developed life and the restrictions they suffer here too much 
to be disturbed by their little outburst, and the next morning 
they begged me to excuse them because they were so young ! 
My time is very fully occupied ; my former leisure 
moments are now employed in writing compositions and 
taking observations. These last I willingly consent to ; 
they will be records to me of French practice. They consist 
of a little history of the patient and a daily account of her 
condition and treatment. But as they are in French, I 
am somewhat longer in noting them down than I should 
be if I could employ my own noble language. I have 
made two " observations " of surgical cases that have been 
very much approved of. I was quite amused with one of 
them. I was directed to note the case down under the 
direction of my chief in that department. As usual, I did 
promptly and cheerfully what was required ; I wrote 
all she dictated, and then I made a private memorandum 

114 Pioneer Work 

for my own satisfaction. This latter was seen by the 
Superior, and immediately the " chief " was directed to 
copy it ; she did it willingly, for she is a good little being, 
and has a profound respect for the stranger. The other 
day two of our chiefs begged me to give them a private 
lesson on the circulation of the blood, which I willingly 
complied with. We seated ourselves in the wood, and I 
explained to them what they did not know ; they were 
very grateful, and have come to me several times since 
to beg me to continue my lesson — indeed, the girls here 
have a sweet nature in many respects. There are little 
jealousies and excitements amongst themselves, but they 
take the right relationship to me ; they think me singularly 
grave and self-sufficing, but they show me continually the 
utmost respect, and are always glad to do me any little ser- 
vice. I frequently enter the salle d'acconchements, when 
the other divisions are engaged there, to see what is going 
on, and I always meet a pleasant welcome. One evening 
I phrenologised them, to their unbounded delight ; for 
some time after I could never enter the room without 
being surrounded by a small mob eagerly demanding an 
examination. Everything delights them ; they are perfect 
children in their full, unthinking enjoyment of the present. 
A little English lesson is a never-failing source of merri- 
ment, and I am continually saluted with some oddly 
pronounced English word, followed by a burst of merri- 
ment. We have girls from all parts of France ; some are 
remarkable for their stupidity, which is generally explained 
by the province from which they arrive. Madame Charrier's 
morning lesson is an ordeal through which all have to pass, 
and seated by her, every morning, I have a fine opportunity 
for studying the various departments of France. When 
some singularly obtuse intellect has exhausted all the 
patience and all the impatience of the teacher, she folds 
her hands and asks in a subdued voice, " Mademoiselle, 
from what department do you come ? " and on receiving 
the answer, adds, " Ah, then it is all accounted for ; the 
case is a hopeless one " ; which announcement greatly 
delights the rest of the class who belong to more enlightened 

We have one Sieve who goes by the name of "La Nor- 
mande " ; she is one of my pictures. A fresh, healthy 

Picturesque Students 115 

complexion, browned by the sun and the sea air of her 
beautiful home, regular features, a stout, vigorous frame 
that has never known a touch of sickness, she walks 
about with a step that feels the ground ; in her white 
quilled cap, and handkerchief pinned over her bosom, 
she looks with her clear blue eyes right into your face, 
and has a frank, loyal manner that marks her honest, 
independent nature. On Sunday she dresses in the short 
full petticoat, the silk-laced jacket, and the lace cap, with 
its towering pyramidal crown and circular ray-like border, 
that I think I have already described to you. She some- 
times visits our dortoir and forms the centre of a group, 
whom she entertains with her constantly overflowing life, 
sometimes singing, in a deep contralto voice, her peasant 
hymns to the Virgin — simple pathetic melodies chanted 
under the lindens when the day's labours are finished — or 
dancing vigorously the figures, more gay than graceful, 
of her country, while she sings some lively air. I admire 
her vigorous life, I like to see her in the infirmary ; she 
tends the sick with such an honest awkwardness, such a 
kind heart, and lifts them like babies in her strong arms, 
that I see the green fields and smell the sweet country 
air as I watch her. Then I have a little Parisian that I 
hang up beside her, as plump as a partridge, with merry 
black eyes, glossy hair always arranged a la mode, and full 
of little coquettish ways. Her temper is like a lucifer 
match, the slightest friction fires it ; the smile and the 
tear are equally ready, though the sunshine generally 
prevails. She has spent several years in business in Paris, 
in cigar stores and similar employments, where she has 
had much to do with gentlemen, and she repeats to me the 
compliments they paid her, the offers they made, and her 
own witty, contemptuous replies, with the utmost naivete. 
Poor child ! she has been thrown on her own simple 
instincts for protection, for her mother was soon jealous of 
the attractions of her daughter, and removed her to a 
distance ; but the real innocence of her heart, and a true 
attachment to a young ship's surgeon, seem to have supplied 
the place of her natural protectors. But true to her Parisian 
blood, she has coquetted from first to last, and she never 
talks to me now but I find it playing in every dimple. 
Think of it ! she was given me as my " Chief of Theory " ! 

n6 Pioneer Work 

Now she asks me in the sweetest manner if I will come 
sometimes to her lessons, and explain to the girls what she 
does not understand. Poor child ! I willingly oblige her. 
But I must not weary you with my portrait gallery, 
my walls are covered with curious figures ; let me sketch 
for you our " vaccinations," which take place every Tues- 
day at one o'clock. The numbers of the babies are dis- 
tributed beforehand amongst the eleves who are to perform 
the operations ; thus, 25 Ste. Marie to one, 32 Ste. Marthe 
to another, and so on. The eleves seek their babies and 
bring them into the Hall of the Nurses, a large upper room, 
full already of women and babies. A space is cleared by 
one of the windows, chairs placed ; in the centre sits M. 
Blot, the director of the operation ; I occupy a chair 
beside him. Mademoiselle, who superintends another 
division, stands beside, and then baby after baby is sub- 
jected to the awkward manoeuvres of the eleves, to their 
utmost dissatisfaction. The babies are very ugly in their 
coarse hospital swaddling clothes ; I never saw the little 
beings so enveloped before. They are just like mummies, 
but they perform a terrible concert altogether, with the 
voices of the eleves to help them. I sit a quiet spectator of 
the operation, occasionally addressing a question to M. Blot 
as he touches knife after knife on the arm of the infant 
before him ; which question seems rather to embarrass 
the handsome interne, for he colours, or passes his hand 
through his hair and looks intently at the baby, in a very 
un-Frenchmanlike manner. I think he must be very 
young, or very much in awe of me, for he never ventures 
to give me a direct look, and seems so troubled when I 
address him that I very rarely disturb his life in that way. 
I think I have given you enough of my external hospital 
life to enable you to picture me somewhat in my surround- 
ings ; do you want to know how the spirit feels in its 
curious home ? Then know, dear friends, that it is strong 
and hopeful, that it has moments of weariness, of intense 
yearning for its true related life, but that it lives ever in the 
great presence of the Eternal, and feels the angels always 

The difficult breaking-in to the practical work of 
the obstetrician is noted in the journal of those days ; 

In the Matcrnite 117 

and also the pleasant comradeship which gradually 
sprang up with the very intelligent young physician 
who served as interne at that time ; this companionship 
was a great relief to my imprisonment in La Maternite. 

Notes from the Journal 

July 4. — Attended lessons by the aides- sages-femmes ; 
very clever instruction. Spent the day in the sallc d'accou- 
chements, but was disgusted by the treatment of a primipara. 
With all the instruction they have received, the very first 
principles of humane treatment seem too often neglected. 
They are still ignorant midwives with their mischievous 
interference. . . . The version seemed to me horrible. I 
almost fainted. . . . Spent the night in the infirmary — 
weary work. I cannot bear this loss of sleep. . . . To-day, 
three operations ; much interested in the morning, but 
grew weary and disgusted in the afternoon. 

July 22. — Attended the interne's visit and spoke to him 
about one of the patients ; he replied so pleasantly that I 
said a little more, and he promised to lend me a medical 
journal to look over, and see how I liked it. The little 
friendliness encouraged me. . . . 

August 12. — The poor woman whom I have attended 
as my first complete patient gave me a little prie-dieu 
which she had made. Her humble heart longs to express 
its gratitude. I put it in my Bible where my friends are 
reading to-day. . . . M. Dubois again waited after the 
lecture to say a few pleasant words. He wished I would 
stay a year and gain the gold medal ; said I should be 
the best obstetrician, male or female, in America ! Had 
quite a pleasant visit to the infirmary, where M. Blot 
made me observe several interesting points, and answered 
my questions intelligently and frankly. . . . 

August 24.— Quite taken by surprise at the infirmary 
visit this afternoon. M. Blot met me so pleasantly, and 
asked me to give him some lessons in English. I think 
he must have been meditating this request for some time ; 
it had hardly the air of a spontaneous thought. I like him. 
I hope we may come a little more closely together. . . . 

September 2. — I have been quite happy for three hours. 
I must note down what I've learned. M. Blot brought his 

n8 Pioneer Work 

microscope to the Infirmerie des Eleves. I was exceedingly 
interested in his microscopic lecture. He showed us in a 
work of M. Hebert's the difference between the epithelium 
pavimcnteux, such as covers the tongue, skin, &c, 
and the epithelium vibratile, as in other parts, and 
the fibro - plastic formations in the reparation of 
tissues, showing specimens of each kind. The first 
species was represented by a cellule full of little 
cellules, a noyau in the centre containing a nucleolus 
— thus. . . . The second was of elongated form, thus. . . . 
The third represented the growth of fibre from cells, which 
cells are distinguished from the first by the relatively 
smaller size of the noyau, thus. . . . By such examination 
different formations can be distinguished from each other ; 
thus cancer possesses very distinctive elements. It is 
necessary to examine bodies of varying shapes under 
different foci of the microscope, otherwise illusions may 
be created. In illustration he placed some blood globules, 
and showed us that what appeared a central spot in each 
globule was owing to the convexity not being in focus, and 
it disappeared when the focus was a little lengthened. He 
spoke also of a paper read before a society yesterday by a 
young physician, which proved that the azote, which in the 
ox is voided by the excrement, in the cow is absorbed into 
the milk ; and that the difference in the manure of the 
two is great. 

He is busy himself now in preparing for an examination 
of internes ; if he gain the gold medal, he has the right to 
enter any hospital he chooses as interne for a second term, 
and receive also his M.D., not otherwise granted to an 
interne. What chance have women, shut out from these 
instructions ? Work on, Elizabeth ! . . . 

To-day M. Blot spoke of a friend, Claude Bernard, a dis- 
tinguished young inquirer, who is now, he thinks, on the 
eve of a discovery that will immortalise him — viz. the 
discovery of an accessory circulation, by which substances 
are sent directly to the kidneys without traversing the 
general circulation, which will explain, for instance, the 
rapid effect of champagne on the kidneys. This second 
heart is situated in the ascending vena cava, close by the 
liver ; strong muscular fibres are evident in the human 
subject, but in the horse are as large as quills. He does not 

Friendly Intercourse 119 

perceive yet what veins return the blood, if his supposition 
be true. He also spoke of the power which the liver has of 
secreting sugar in a normal state, when animals are fed on 
certain substances which can be so converted ; also of the 
curious experiment by which a dog was made, in his pres- 
ence, to secrete albuminous or diabetic urine, according to 
the pricking of one or another point of the pneumogastric 
nerve near its origin. . . .* 

At the afternoon visit we had quite a philosophical dis- 
cussion on society, &c. Mile. Mallet was delighted with a 
bon mot of M. Blot. She remarked that she understood that 
les demoiselles had answered like anges. " Yes," he answered, 
" en otant le g." They had been unusually stupid ! She 
asked me if M. Blot were not rather moqueur. I said I did 
not know, but that I had discovered that he was very 
ambitious. His sentiments seem to be good, but his 
character is certainly not French. 

September 21. — M. Dubois stopped to speak to me after 
the lecture, and again expressed his great desire that I 
should remain a year in the institution. I told him I had 
determined to remain another three months ; but I had 
many other branches to study. He replied that anything 
else I might learn elsewhere as well as in Paris, but that the 
opportunity of seeing all that was remarkable in three 
thousand deliveries in that space of time could be met with 
nowhere else in the world ; that it equalled the whole 
practice of most physicians, and he was persuaded that I 
should regret it if I did not remain. He parted saying he 
would talk the matter over again with me. If it be pure 
interest that makes him urge this I am glad ; but it seems 
to me now an impossible endurance. 

1 I was at that time utterly unaware of the amount of degrading 
cruelty perpetrated by many foreign investigators upon helpless 
animals under methods erroneously called scientific. It required the 
extended observation of the physician to realise the intellectual 
fallacy necessarily involved in experiments which destroy the thing 
to be observed ; and also to recognise how the constant promulga- 
tion of false theory and practice arising from erroneous methods of 
investigation hinders the attainment of scientific medicine. 

I have long since realised that conscience and humanity must 
guide intellectual activity and curiosity, or we wander from the high- 
road of truth into a labyrinth of error. The above experience illus- 
trates how the eager young student, thirsting for knowledge, may be 
blind to the unscientific or immoral methods of pseudo-science. 

120 Pioneer Work 

October 4. — Another midnight scene — a strange spectacle 
of suffering and of science. As I stood on the crowded 
benches of the amphitheatre I heard the clock strike one, 
the holy noon of night. I wondered how long our sins 
would thus be fearfully visited upon us. The rain beat in 
torrents on the skylight, the wind shook the building, and 
I could look with intense interest on that rare and danger- 
ous accident submitted to our investigation — lithotomy, 
the only way to save life ; a tedious operation lasting, I 
should think, an hour, for in the hurry of midnight dressing 
I had forgotten my watch. . . . 

To-night I have been walking in the wood ; the wind 
blows fresh under the clear starlight. I am happier now 
that my mind is clearly determined to leave at the end of 
six months, with the conviction that my work here is 
thoroughly done. . . . 

October 30. — Madame Charrier sent for me this afternoon 
to present me with my portrait. It was a lithograph picture 
of Elizabeth Blackwell, taken from a history of sages- 
femmes celebres. This lady, about 1737, published a work 
on medical botany in two large folio volumes, in order to 
get her husband, a medical man, out of prison, where he was 
confined for debt. 

I imagined a whole romance out of the picture, and a 
little biography — a romance of a beautiful, true spirit, 
struggling with a society too strong to be turned from its 
ancient habits of evil. But the pure spirit is not lost, it is 
working bravely still. 

A Sortie from La Matcrnite 

October 22. 

Dear Friends, one and all, — Yesterday I spent a 
delightful day — a day which I passed in doing nothing — 
and it was so pleasant, so refreshing, that I must tell you 
about it. I had laid out so many plans for my first day of 
freedom. I was to see so many medical people, and so many 
medical places, that I was almost exhausted in the anticipa- 
tion, and when my leave of absence actually came, when all 
things worked right, and I was neither en service, nor in the 
infirmary, nor in the reception, and when moreover, for a 
wonder, it did not rain, I just determined to give up every- 
thing like business, forget there was such a thing as medicine 

A Magnetic Seance 121 

or such a place as the Maternite, and give myself up like a 
child to the pleasure of looking and moving and eating, and 
everything that was natural and nothing that was wise ! In 
fact, I found that I could really do nothing of business in 
a satisfactory way in the short space of eleven hours, so my 
troublesome conscience for once was quiet, and permitted 
me to waste a day. I was really amused at myself to find 
how anxious I was that it should not rain, and how im- 
patient I was for the moment to arrive when I could leave, 
for by the rules of the place Anna must take me out, and 
Anna must bring me back precisely at eight o'clock ! The 
directeur could not help laughing when he informed me of 
these regulations ; still, as he said, " no exceptions could be 
made." Anna was anxious that I should lose no portion of 
my short day. She woke up an hour earlier than usual, with 
the sense of some weighty responsibility resting upon her, 
which she could not at first understand ; but as the idea of 
the Maternite dawned upon her she rose in haste, and at 
nine o'clock the summons for Mademoiselle Black well was 
shouted forth under the windows of my dormitory. You 
must know that these sorties are quite an event to the 
eleves ; they gather about the happy departing one with all 
manner of good wishes for her enjoyment and safe return. 
So while one hooked my dress, another fastened my gloves, 
a third arranged my collar, the rest admired with the often 
repeated compliment, " Oh, que vous etes belle ! " and all 
sped me on my way with the pleasant greetings of their 
kind, light hearts. 

How gay and free and delightful the city seemed to me 
after my four months' imprisonment — four months shut up 
within the high boundary wall of the institution, with the 
sky above the tops of tall houses only visible, and all life 
concentrated in a single subject ! My chest seemed to grow 
broader as I stepped over the threshold and saw no barrier 
before me, but the beautiful Luxembourg Garden on one 
side, and unending streets on the other. The variety of 
busy life, the gay dresses, the cheerful houses, looked 
charming to me. I was surprised to find how strange every- 
thing seemed. I really saw Paris again for the first time, 
and criticised everything as on my first arrival. We walked 
down the long avenue that led from the observatory to the 
garden. On each side are nursery grounds on a much lower 

122 Pioneer Work 

level than the great central avenue ; they form a large lake 
of trees and flowers on each side the promenade. We 
descended into the beautiful flowery labyrinth to admire 
the magnificent dahlias of all colours and in immense 
quantities. The French are very fond of what they call 
corbeillcs. There is one in every court of the Maternite ; it 
is a large round plot of ground, filled to overflowing with 
every variety of bright flower, enclosed by a trellis-work 
that is covered inside and outside by morning glories, 
nasturtiums, &c, so that it is nothing but a hedge of 
flowers. The nursery grounds we walked through were full 
of these, which sent forth a delicious odour ; and occasion- 
ally they were varied by an enclosed grass plot, hollowed 
out, and kept in the most beautiful order, with bright 
borders of flowers. As we ascended to the garden I was 
struck by the noble trees, dressed now in their varied 
autumn robes, through which the marble statues and 
antique palace sparkled as brightly as in the green summer 
time. We were saluted by showers of dead leaves, which 
gave the children much sport and the keepers much trouble. 
By the western gate is the immense block of buildings in 
which Anna has her pretty appartement. She introduced 
me to them, for the change of residence had been made 
since my retirement from the world, and I duly admired the 
elegant furniture, carved ceiling, tasteful paper, and above 
all the pretty look-out upon a long avenue of trees whose 
autumn foliage shed a warm glow through the rooms. At 
half-past twelve we hurried off to attend a magnetic seance 
at the Baron Dupotet's, which commenced precisely at one 
o'clock ; and finding the omnibus too slow, we jumped into 
a cab with a lady who was bound on the same errand. 

Now I must describe a magnetic seance to you ; but I 
beg that you will receive the description with becoming 
seriousness, for I have a decided respect for M. Dupotet, 
and if any risibility should be excited it will proceed from 
your own nervous imagination, and not from my sober 
portraiture. These revelations of a higher sphere of exist- 
ence are received up several pairs of stairs, in the back- 
room of a house situated in the heart of the city. It is a 
large, somewhat darkened room hung round with curious 
pictures, and lined with very curious people. Mesmer 
occupies a large frame carved with firebrands and anchors 

A Magnetic Seance 123 

and other significant images ; he looks fixedly at a pale 
lady hanging opposite to him, who has evidently under- 
gone several magnetic crises. There are some verses 
framed and hanging very near the ceiling, surrounded by a 
thick wreath of yellow immortelles, but I have not yet been 
able to decipher their meaning. On the seats lining the 
walls about fifty persons assemble. It is an original 
assembly always, though it seems to be constantly chang- 
ing. There was a lady with a small hole in her check, a 
child with a crooked neck, and the painter to the King of 
Sweden, with very light eyes and hair and great impressi- 
bility, with his companion who laughs and says, " Oui, 
monsieur," to every question addressed to him ; and the 
son of the English Consul to Sicily, who displays a large 
amount of good clothes, good flesh, a little peaked 
moustache, and an immense amount of enthusiasm. But 
it would be difficult to give all the varieties of structure and 
expression in this group of believing heretics, some looking 
very fierce, some very sheepish, some with features turned 
up, some with them turned down, and some with them 
turned every way. The folding-doors of this room open 
into a small cabinet which is always opened on these occa- 
sions to receive Madame Dupotet and all the impressible 
ladies who form a circle inside, and go through many 
sympathetic manoeuvres during the magnetising in the 
larger room : that is to say, the impressible ladies perform 
various antics, for Madame Dupotet, who is fat, fair, and 
forty, seems in no way affected, but looks on with smiling 
health and assists the nervous ladies. There was one 
remarkably fat dame, seated just within the folding- doors, 
who had powerful fits of nervous twitching, which gave her 
a singular appearance of pale, tremulous red jelly. 

It would be impossible to describe the ornaments of 
M. Dupotet's study cabinet — the mystic symbols and 
black-letter books of the Black Art ; but there is a little 
metallic mirror of oval form, traced with magic characters, 
which exerts a truly wonderful effect upon impressible 
subjects, exciting an ecstasy of delight or a transport of 
rage ; but always an irresistible attraction for all who are 
affected by the magnetic influence. While M. Dupotet has 
been displaying it to the one particular object of his atten- 
tion, half-a-dozen others steal up from all parts of the 

124 Pioneer Work 

room to seize the prize ; one little old lady under the 
magnetic influence came tottering up, with the drollest 
expression of violent jealousy on her face, and with her 
clenched fist prepared to fight the other equally eager 
disputants for the possession of this wonderful mirror. 

Unfortunately, this particular meeting passed without 
any of those singular occurrences which are said some- 
times to electrify the spectators. I heard much of the 
ecstasy of a young man which had thrilled every person 
present— believer or non-believer— the meeting before, in 
which the ordinary law of gravitation seemed to be super- 
seded, and the entranced soul would actually have fled up 
into the heaven it was striving for had not M. Dupotet 
clasped the body tightly in his arms and commanded it 
back ! But though no miracle was wrought, the faithful 
audience hung with intense interest on every manifestation 
of simple magnetic power ; the aspiring features assumed 
a higher aspect, the downward ones bent more deter- 
minedly, and the red jelly became more tremulous at every 
fresh magnetisation ; and when the seance closed everybody 
shook everybody's hand, and found it good to have been 

Now, do not think my picture is a caricature — verily, I 
am very serious. There is an odd side to all reformers, to 
all who are pursuing a new idea earnestly, that is very 
whimsical. I am obliged to laugh at it ; and yet I have 
true respect for M. Dupotet. Though he believes in ancient 
magic, though he lives in the hope of working miracles, I 
really believe him to be an honest, enthusiastic man, 
engaged with his whole soul in pursuing what seems to him 
the most important of all discoveries. His manner is 
perfectly unpretending, his conversation full of good sense ; 
for twenty-five years he has pursued the same object, 
through suffering and ridicule and failure. He is honest, 
I am sure ; how much truth he may possess I am at present 
quite unable to say ; for my position, whilst it has given 
me occasional glimpses of his proceedings, has given no 
power of really investigating them ; but some time I hope 
to really study magnetism. 

As we walked back we stopped at the Louvre ; I longed 
to see again that rich collection of art, particularly the 
statues, that seemed more beautiful than ever. We called 

Visit of Geneva Professor 125 

in the Rue de Seine, hoping to gratify my old landlady, but 
she was out. Then Anna introduced me to her reading- 
room, where we studied the affairs of Europe, and grew 
indignant at the barbarism which seems for the moment 
triumphant. Anna took great pleasure all day in filling me 
with all manner of eatables, having great faith in " the 
very best beef," and I must confess that when dinner was 
concluded my dress felt a little tight at the waist ! 

Punctually at eight o'clock the recluse retired again 
from the vanities of the world. But, seriously, the idle 
day refreshed me ; I needed it, and feel all the better for a 
little change. 

October 24. — A most pleasant occurrence. Professor Lee, 
my Geneva Professor of Materia Medica, is in town, and is 
coming to see me to-morrow. He has been making a tour 
of two months in Great Britain, and now he visits Paris. 
How glad I shall be to see him, as a friend whom I respect, 
and with whom I can have a long delightful gossip ! 
perhaps also he can give me information and some advice 
and introductions. 

October 25. — By these most absurd regulations I was not 
allowed to show Dr. Lee over the hospital when he called. 
However, the directeur escorted him, and M. Blot offered an 
introduction to Ricord. 

Although the residence in La Maternite was an 
extremely trying one from the utter absence of privacy, 
the poor air and food, and really hard work when 
sleep was lost on the average every fifth night, yet the 
medical experience was invaluable at that period of 
pioneer effort. It enabled me later to enter upon 
practice with a confidence in one important branch 
of medicine that no other period of study afforded ; 
and I have always been glad that I entered the institu- 
tion, notwithstanding the very grave accident which 
now befell me. 

This event was noted at the time as follows : — 

Sunday, November 4.— Served all day in the infirmary, 
and witnessed M. Dayau's first application of the serrefine. 
I felt all the afternoon a little grain of sand, as it were, in 

126 Pioneer Work 

one eye. I was afraid to think what it might be, for in the 
dark early morning, whilst syringing the eye of one of my 
tiny patients for purulent ophthalmia, some of the water 
had spurted into my own eye. It was much swollen at 
night, and in the morning the lids were closely adherent 
from suppuration. 

November 5. — I applied for permission to leave until the 
eye was well, and was refused. I went to the infirmary of 
the Sieves and informed M. Blot that I was prisoner. He 
examined the eye carefully, discovered that it was the 
dreaded disease, consulted his chief, and then told me that 
as everything depended on the early active treatment, he 
should give up the first days entirely to me. He expressed 
much sympathy, arranged everything for me in the most 
thoughtful way, and I went to bed — I little knew for how 
long ! I despatched a note to my sister, and then active 
treatment commenced — the eyelids cauterised, leeches to 
the temple, cold compresses, ointment of belladonna, opium 
to the forehead, purgatives, footbaths, and sinapisms, with 
broth for diet. The eye was syringed every hour, and I 
realised the danger of the disease from the weapons em- 
ployed against it. Poor Anna came down in the evening to 
sympathise with the " inflamed eye " I had written about, 
and was dreadfully shocked. She has told me since how 
many times she hid behind the curtain to cry. My friendly 
young doctor came every two hours, day and night, to tend 
the eye, Mile. Mallet acting in the alternate hours. _ The 
infirmary was kept profoundly quiet, and a guard appointed 
day and night. The sympathy was universal and deep, the 
Sieves asking after me with tears. An unheard-of per- 
mission was granted to Anna to visit me three times a day. 
For three days this continued — then the disease had done 
its worst ; and I learned from the tone of my friends that 
my eye was despaired of. Ah ! how dreadful it was to find 
the daylight gradually fading as my kind doctor bent over 
me, and removed with an exquisite delicacy of touch the 
films that had formed over the pupil ! I could see him for 
a moment clearly, but the sight soon vanished, and the eye 
was left in darkness. 

For three weeks I lay in bed with both eyes closed, then 
the right eye began to open gradually, and I could get up 
and do little things for myself. How kind everybody was ! 

Serious Illness 127 

I shall never forget it. Anna, with her faith in magnetism, 
came down regularly three times a day in rain and snow to 
sympathise and impart " the vital fluid." My friendship 
deepened for my young physician, and I planned a little 
present for his office. Madame Charrier entered into it with 
spirit ; we had long discussions together, and finally 
secured an elegant pair of lamps for his consultation-rooms, 
which I hurried through the corridors to see, bundled up 
in my dressing-gown and shawl, looking and feeling very 
much like a ghost. The lamps were conveyed to his room 
that night. The next morning he came to me evidently full 
of delight, and longing to be amiable, yet too conscientious 
to infringe the rules of the Maternite by acknowledging the 
present. He admired my braid of long hair, wondered how 
fingers without eyes could arrange anything so beautifully 
regular ; spoke of the Protestant religion, thought if ho 
joined any Church it would be that ; turned to go, turned 
back again, and was evidently hardly able to leave without 
thanking me. Mile. Mallet told me that the night before he 
had run in to Madame Charrier to tell her of his present, and 
on his way out passed by the cloisters in an evident per- 
plexity, longing to enter the infirmary of the Sieves, but 
unable to do so. I do admire his delicate conscientiousness ! 

I received a visit from M. Davenne, who had sent me a 
message of sympathy. I could not clearly make him out 
with my dim eye, but had a general idea of a short, elderly 
man standing hat in hand, and regarding me as one would 
a solemn religious spectacle. M. Boivin made some very 
friendly remarks to me, and concluded, raising his hand, 
" et, voyez-vous ? e'est d'une patience." 

" Angelique ! " replied M. Davenne. 

Saturday, 22nd. — Oh, how happy I am at this moment, 
for Dubois has just left me, understanding for the first 
time the justice of my determination to obtain a full 
medical education, and obliged to confess that I was right 
in principle. I shall have my conge, and a hope of cliniques 
and study in the Eccentric hospitals. Heaven has answered 
that heart-cry of the other night. 

Wednesday, 26th. — Off actually ! I dressed for the first 
time. Bandaged and veiled ; the carriage drove to the 
door, Anna guided me in. I made kind adieux, caught 

128 Pioneer Work 

glimpses of stone walls, in the cold dull light, and thus 
ended my Maternite life. I felt very weak, and laughed 
hysterically the whole evening. 

The following letter, written at this time to an 
uncle, an officer in the British army, shows the im- 
portant support which the mind can render the body 
in combating disease : — 

Dear Uncle, — I thank you with all my heart for the 
kind sympathy you have expressed for me so warmly. 
Fate certainly gave me a strange and sudden blow, but 
now I am up again strong and hopeful, and eager for work, 
and I beg uncle to feel quite sure that a brave soldier's 
niece will never disgrace the colours she fights under ; but 
will be proud of the wounds gained in a great cause, and 
resolve more strongly than ever to " conquer or die." In 
truth, dear friends, the accident might have been so much 
worse that I am more disposed to rejoice than to complain. 
Even in its present state the eye is not a very striking dis- 
figurement, and it will gradually become still less so. As to 
the more serious consideration— loss of vision — I still hope 
to recover that in time, and meanwhile the right eye grows 
daily stronger. I can write without difficulty, read a 
little, and hope soon to resume my usual employments. I 
certainly esteem myself very fortunate, and I still mean to 
be at no very distant day the first lady surgeon in the world. 

I find from your letters that there is a possibility of your 
visiting Paris. I should rejoice in the prospect of meeting 
you, if my own stay were certain ; but it is by no means so. 
I have already accomplished much in France, but I find it 
very difficult to proceed further ; still, I cannot yet judge 
decidedly of my prospects. I have just received permission 
from Government to visit the hospitals, which is encourag- 
ing, and one opening may lead to others, so that I may still 
hope to meet you some day, unless you should grow fright- 
ened at the idea of my scalpel and lancet, and feel uncertain 
how far the ties of relationship may modify the experi- 
mental researches of the medical student ! 
Believe me, very truly, 

Your niece, 

Elizabeth Blackwell. 

Visit to Grafenberg 129 

But the six months which followed my departure 
from the Maternite proved to be a time of great mental 
suffering, under which a strong physical constitution 
threatened to give way ; for the condition of the 
affected organ entirely prevented that close applica- 
tion to professional study which was needed. Both 
anatomical and surgical work were out of the ques- 
tion ; and even reading had to be laid aside. I 
followed a few lectures and some cliniques at the 
Hotel-Dieu, by permission of M. Roux, and engaged 
a repetiteur, but this was quite inadequate to accom- 
plish the end in view. 

In June of 1850 a visit to the fine mountain air of 
Priessnitz's famous establishment at Grafenberg was 
resolved on, in the hope of regaining strength and 
power of study. Travelling rapidly through France, 
Germany, and Prussia, in five days I reached the 
famous water-cure region. On the journey a day 
had been spent in Berlin, where I had been struck by 
the arrogance of the Prussian officers, and the fear 
which was expressed by a friend with whom I talked 
freely in Kroll's Garden, lest conversation should be 
overheard ! 

Freiwaldau, at the foot of the Grafenberg, was full 
of Kurgaste ; but, being warned by a lady to whom I 
brought an introduction that it would be impossible 
for a lady to go alone to the Grafenberg Hotel, for it 
" was full of gentlemen who went about in their shirt- 
sleeves," I was rather perplexed as to where to go. A 
home letter describes this curious experience : — 

Grafenberg, 3 p.m. — On a shady seat on the brow of a hill 
commanding a most beautiful prospect. Dearly beloved 
people, this cometh to you from a very watery person in a 
very watery place. The sound of water is heard every- 
where. But I must give you some particulars. Not being 
able to find lodgings in Freiwaldau, I left word for Priessnitz 
to call, and was sitting in my little upper room at the hotel, 
feeling decidedly blue, when the door opened and in walked 


130 Pioneer Work 

a middle-sized, elderly man, with sunburnt face marked 
with the small-pox, with grey hair, light-blue eyes, a 
pleasant expression of face, and dressed in country-best 
style. I liked his appearance, 'twas honest and good. He 
examined me very closely with his little blue eyes all the 
time I was explaining my wishes. Then, in his abrupt 
manner, he told me he could make me quite strong in about 
six weeks, and the cure would do no harm to my eye. When 
I told him that I was informed Grafenberg was quite full, 
he said, " You can come, child ; come this afternoon, and 
bring your things with you," and off he went. I felt quite 
relieved to be spared the bother of lodging-hunting and 
housekeeping. I determined to face the innumerable 
gentlemen in shirt sleeves, and let properness go ; if the 
Grdfinn did not like my position — why, she might dislike 
it ! When I reached the place of my destination I was a 
little confounded. At the very top of the house, with bare 
rafters for the roof and the wall, a row of little windows a 
foot high let into the roof above my head, a wooden crib 
full of straw, three wooden chairs, a table, and low bureau 
with a green earthenware bowl ; this was my room and its 
furniture. I must have looked rather dismayed, for the 
girl hastened to inform me that I had an Italian count and 
countess for my next-door neighbours, and that there were 
eight ladies and eight gentlemen on the same floor, and 
that we should be out in the woods all day. Of course I 
could say nothing when I found I had such noble neigh- 
bours, or rather when I found that it was really the last 
vacant room in the house ! 

When the bell rang for tea I was shown into an immense 
hall that might seat 500 people, gaily painted, and orna- 
mented with chandeliers. I sat down and found myself, to 
my utter amazement, beside a row of ladies in grand toilette 
gossamer dresses with short sleeves and waists a little lower 
than I thought waists were ever worn ; hair dressed out 
with curls and flowers, bracelets (I counted five on the arm 
next me) and rings to match ! The long tables were 
covered with alternate bowls of sour and sweet milk, and 
brown bread and butter. The bread looked inviting, but 
when, with difficulty, I had sawn off a morsel, it was so sour 
that I could hardly swallow it ; but the milk was good, and 
I did it justice. People kept coming in in groups, very 

Life at Grafenberg 131 

merry, but all talking German ; the gentlemen, I presume, 
were in shirt sleeves, but as they were all covered with 
coats, I was not shocked ! 

The next morning early I went through a series of 
hydropathic operations, at which Priessnitz assisted, as 
he always does the first time. The course never varied— viz. 
packing, a half-bath, a plunge bath, a wet bandage, and 
some glasses of cold water at six o'clock in the morning ; an 
Abreibung, sitz bath, and another wet bandage at twelve 
o'clock ; ditto at four p.m., and water ad libitum all through 
the day. 

The diet is plain, but every morning an old woman opens 
a white-bread shop outside the dining-room, to which 
almost everyone is customer. Each one comes in from the 
early morning walk, buys a roll, and marches in with it 
under his arm ; and morning and evening the little straw- 
berry gatherers offer the Alpine strawberries, with their 
fine wild- wood flavour, for sale. 

Everybody seems to have a good appetite. My own is 
ravenous ; a half-day in the open air, rambling over these 
fine mountain-sides, stimulated by the wind and the 
abundant really living water, I find myself suddenly in 
strong, vigorous health, and the idea of sickness seems a fable. 

At first I felt very lonely in such a large assembly ; but 
now I speak to a good many, and I have found one young 
American, Mr. Glynn, who seems like a brother in this 
concourse of strangers. He is about twenty-two, nearly 
blind from amaurosis, but one of the " smartest " fellows 
I have ever met ; quick as a flash, full of Yankee shrewd- 
ness, he bears his terrible misfortune with real heroism, and 
has rendered me numberless little services. 

There are several mountain-sides laid out with walks 
innumerable. The favourite early morning walk is to the 
Priessnitz spring ; you wind round and up the mountain, 
partly through open, sweet-smelling fields, partly through 
pleasant fir woods, passing several springs by the way, each 
with its name and inscription and rustic seats around ; at 
each you stop and drink, chat a little with those you meet, 
and perhaps sit down for a few moments. It is very sweet 
at this hour : the leaves smell so fresh, the beautiful flowers 
are covered with dew, and the cuckoo is heard in the woods 
all day. This stroll generally occupies two hours. . . . 

132 Pioneer Work 

It is very amusing to watch the people. Grafenberg is 
the rage in Germany ; all classes are represented here. The 
Countess von Westhalp offers to introduce me to a fashion- 
able English circle in Freiwaldau, headed by Lady Darley ; 
and to our great indignation the " butcher " Haynau, 
notorious for his barbarities, made his appearance here one 
day. In the house we have gymnasium, billiard-room, 
library, theatre, and balls frequently take place. . . . 

Priessnitz has 500 patients under his care, and with 
their friends they amount to hundreds more. You see him 
sitting at the head of one of the large tables, three times a 
day, looking very pleasant. He is quiet and simple in 
manner, but has a very determined mouth. They say he 
is proud of having been an Austrian serf. His pleasant- 
looking daughter is married to an Hungarian baron. 

These foreign titles are really a farce. I am here in my 
loft one day, in slippers and old dressing-gown, when a 
knock comes to my door. When I open it, a tall, black- 
whiskered foreigner appears, who presents the respects of 
Mme. la Princesse Obolenska, and hopes I will call upon her 
when I next go to Freiwaldau. The man made quite sure 
that I was I — as well he might, for I never had quite such 
queer surroundings. ... I paid my visit, a professional 
one, after all. I had to put up with four gulden, instead of 
the honour ; but she was a simple, pleasant lady, and we 
parted on the pleasantest terms. This was, in fact, my 
first regular professional consultation. 

The air and water, however, of that lovely region, 
with the constant outdoor life and endless rambles 
over the Bohemian mountain-sides, proved too stimu- 
lating to the still sensitive organ : a violent attack 
of inflammation supervened. With great difficulty I 
returned to Paris, and placed myself under the care 
of the famous oculist Desmarres. This gentleman 
rendered me the most skilful and generous aid. In 
the course of a few weeks he restored me to active 
work again, although the sight of one eye was per- 
manently lost, and the intention of making surgery a 
speciality necessarily abandoned. 

During this trying period of Parisian study, my 

Return to London 133 

cousin, Mr. Kenyon Blackwell, a South Staffordshire 
ironmaster, was endeavouring to promote my strong 
desire to study in one of our London hospitals. He 
applied to the able and highly esteemed dean of St. 
Bartholomew's Hospital, who presented the applica- 
tion to the treasurer. The subject was referred to the 
Medical Council of the hospital. The result was 
forwarded to me as follows : — 

At a House Committee held on Tuesday, the 14th day of 
May, 1850, a letter addressed to the treasurer from Mr. 
Paget, communicating to him the request of Miss Elizabeth 
Blackwell, a lady well connected in this country and the 
United States, to attend as a student in the wards and 
other departments of the hospital, was read, when the 
treasurer reported that the same had been referred to the 
Medical Council, and the opinion of all the members of the 
council having been read, and Mr. Paget having attended 
and furnished the committee with such information as was 
required, it was resolved : 

" That in the opinion of this committee Miss Blackwell 
should be admitted as a student under such regulations as 
the treasurer and almoners may from time to time deem 

James Paget, Esq. 

The ticket of admission forwarded at the same time 
granted permission to study in any ward, and follow 
the visit of any physician or surgeon who was willing 
to extend to me the facilities of his department. The 
permission was accompanied by a cordial welcome 
from the dean, Mr. James Paget, M.R.C.S. 

This was indeed joyful news. I could now in an 
open and honourable way, no longer regarded with 
suspicion, but protected by the highest medical sanc- 
tion, devote myself to the unlimited field of practical 
medicine so cordially thrown open to me, and which 
I ardently desired to study. I hastened to London, 
and, after some little difficulty in obtaining lodgings, 
on account of being a lady, alone, established • myself 

134 Pioneer Work 

in rooms in Thavies Inn, then a delightfully quiet set 
of houses, entered by an archway from busy Holborn. 

Every morning after breakfast I now regularly 
betook myself to the hospital, spending many hours 
there daily, and making the Faith wards, under Dr. 
Burrows, my headquarters ; but Messrs. Lawrence, 
Stanley, and Lloyd courteously welcomed me to their 
wards. Indeed, every department was cordially opened 
to me, except the department for female diseases ! 

Kind old Dr. Hue was always ready to show me 
cases of interest, and he took me by an underground 
passage, which led to Christ's Hospital, to taste the 
famous pea-soup made for the lads of that old Founda- 
tion school. 

I particularly valued the special visits of clinical 
observation, without students, which Dr. Baly and 
Mr. Kirkes were making. 

Mr. Kirkes was preparing a new edition of his 
excellent Student's Physiology, and Dr. Baly was 
pursuing his valuable investigations on dysentery. 
In relation to the latter, it is noted in my journal : 
" He is so gentle, so friendly, and so learned in his 
art, that he teaches me more than anyone else." 

I also attended Mr. Paget's admirable lectures on 
pathological anatomy, given in the amphitheatre. 
My seat there was always courteously reserved for 
me. I experienced also the utmost consideration 
from the students, a large class of whom always 
followed Dr. Burrows's visits. Indeed, so natural did 
this innovation of a lady student soon become, that 
when, the following year, I paid my farewell visit to 
the treasurer, he remarked, to my great gratification, 
" Why, we had quite forgotten you were here ! ' 

Many home letters mark the various incidents of 
this extremely interesting period of study. 

London, 28 Thavies Inn: November 1. 
Dear Friends, — When I arrived in London on October 
3, I was actually dismayed by the intolerable atmosphere, 

Admittance to St. Bartholomew's 135 

the dense envelope of foggy smoke that made me sick 
during the day and kept me awake at night ; and as I con- 
tinued to make observations on persons and things, and 
finally settled down in my present prosaic lodgings, I asked 
myself with astonishment, Is this the same London I saw a 
year and a half ago, or is it a different person examining the 
same objects ? But now, happily, that state of forlornity 
has passed away. I have almost forgotten the smoke ; my 
lodgings are clean and convenient. I am making friends, 
and I shall use all the opportunities I can get for studying 
social subjects and seeing society, provided they do not 
interfere with my work and are not too expensive. 

My first introduction to St. Bartholomew's was at a 
breakfast at Mr. Paget's. He has a house within the hos- 
pital boundaries, and a special oversight of the students. 
At the commencement of each session he invites the 
students to breakfast in parties of about a dozen, and to 
one of those breakfasts I, on my arrival, was invited. The 
students seemed to be gentlemanly fellows, and looked 
with some curiosity at their new companion ; the conversa- 
tion was general and pleasant, the table well covered, Mrs. 
Paget very sensible and agreeable, so that it was quite a 
satisfactory time. Soon after I was invited to meet a dis- 
tinguished German gentleman, Professor Kolliker, whom I 
found most agreeable and intelligent. My old acquaintance, 
Professor Owen, entertained us with traditions of London. 
Dr. Carpenter was also present, and some of the older 
students, looking very amiable, though awkward. The 
gentlemen I find more friendly than the ladies ; I fear I 
shall find them in the shocked phase this winter. There are, 
however, a few decided exceptions. . . . 

But now I am going to tell mother of a visit which I made 
yesterday on purpose to amuse her — viz. to our old Bridge 
Street minister, Dr. Leifchild, whose christening of me I 
distinctly remember ! Between three and four, on my 
return from hospital, I set out determined to hunt up the 
family, and after searching directories and trudging several 
miles, and being wrongly directed, when I finally inquired 
at No. 5 Camden Street, a quiet, respectable house, whether 
Dr. Leifchild was in, I listened with great relief to the 
announcement that he was probably taking his nap. I was 
ushered into a large plainly furnished parlour, where sat 

136 Pioneer Work 

Mrs. Leif child, sewing by a round table in the middle. My 
childish recollection had retained a general impression of the 
person, though I should not have recognised her. She is 
seventy-two, and wearing spectacles, but does not look 
more than fifty, so fresh, plump, and pretty, though un- 
fortunately so deaf that she could only hear an occasional 
word. I announced myself. She replied, " I remember the 
family well. Mr. Blackwell was deacon in the chapel. You 
are one of his sisters." I could hardly make her believe 
that I was third daughter. She remembered A. and M. well ; 
said they were clever girls ; she knew they would turn out 
something remarkable, but she had no recollection of me. 
Their son John came in at that moment — a tall, thin man, 
reminding me of the Lane Seminary student, Jones. I 
don't know whether I ever saw him before. Of course the 
doctor was sent for to see the stranger. I recognised him at 
once, and should have known him anywhere — fat, rosy, 
and laughing, notwithstanding his grey hair. I did not 
detect anything of the old man in him. " Ah," said he, " I 
know that face," and then he made me take my bonnet off 
and occupy a large chair by the fire, and tell him all about 
the family, and particularly my mother. " A sweet 
creature she was ! How I should like to see her again ! 
Doesn't she talk about visiting England ? I wish she 
would." He spoke of father with great affection, as a true 
friend. He had received most beautiful letters from him. 
" If my memoirs are published, one of his letters will appear 
in them." They had been told that the two eldest Miss 
Blackwells were very dashing girls, and wanted to know the 
truth. Then, why had I come to England ? I told him I had 
been doing a rather singular thing ; I had been studying 
medicine. He looked at me to see if I were in earnest, and 
then burst out into such a hearty, merry laugh that I joined 
in with all my might. " Yes, I had obtained a diploma as 
doctor in medicine." " You — doctor ! " and then another 
hearty laugh. Of course Mrs. Leifchild wanted to know 
what we were laughing at. " Why, my dear, that girl there 
is Doctor in Medicine ! " and then I must give them the 
whole history ; and I certainly never had three more atten- 
tive listeners, interrupted by the doctor's exclamations : 
" Bless me, what she has done ; what she has suffered ! 
Why, the girl's a genius ! Where did she get it all from ? 

Life at St. Bartholomew's 137 

Why, no man could have done what she has done ! ' And 
if ever I stopped, John would say, " Now, Miss Blackwell, 
pray go on ; it's the most interesting narrative I ever 
listened to ; you left off at Paris." I was much amused. 
To J hat little family, who had been staying so quietly at 
home in the same routine, it did sound like a romance. 
When I had done, the doctor declared " it was a capital 
thing — it was the beginning of a new era." And John at 
once brought out pen and paper and begged me to give him 
my autograph. The doctor said the Rev. Mr. May, from 
America, was an old friend and class-mate who had visited 
England about two years ago, and he graphically described 
their interview. When Dr. L. opened the door, he started 
back. " No ! Yes ! It isn't — it is ! It can't be possible ! 
It is very certain ; but won't you let me in ? " From Mr. 
May he learned that the eldest of the Blackwells had 
become Socinians ; and then I must give an account of my 
religious faith. Of course I spoke up for myself. I told him 
my religion was certainly a little peculiar ; but neverthe- 
less it was a very good and very strong one — and he didn't 
seem much troubled about the state of my soul ; indeed, I 
believe that, on the whole, he considered that it was a little 
safer than most of the ladies' of his acquaintance ! So, 
mother, I beg you to take the same view of the matter. 
Altogether, I met with the heartiest reception. The doctor 
placed all his influence at my service, and Mrs. Leifchild will 
write you all the news of your old Bristol friends. So I hope 
you approve of my calling. . . . 

Now I am writing in a queer place — viz. one of the wards 
of St. Bartholomew's, whilst awaiting the visit of one of the 
physicians. This famous old hospital is only five minutes' 
walk from my lodgings, and every morning, as the clock 
strikes nine, I walk down Holborn Hill, make a short cut 
through the once famous Cock Lane, and find myself at a 
gate of the hospital that enables me to enter with only a 
side glance at Smithfield Cattle Market. " Punch " had 
really frightened me by his account of the dangerous 
tumult of animals ; but, happily, I need only glance across 
the open space, forgetting the bulls, pigs, &c, that occupy 
it now, and also the fearful fires of persecution once lighted 
there, and try to bring back the time when it was lined with 
gay tents, and surrounded by galleries filled with beauty, 

138 Pioneer Work 

eager to witness the brilliant encounters of arms that took 
place there in the age of tournaments. Now a little dark 
figure with doctorial sack and writing-case under arm makes 
its way through assembling students, who politely step 
aside to let it pass, and entering the museum, studies its 
numerous preparations till the hour of lecture, when an 
attendant shows it to a seat. I only attend regularly one 
course of lectures — viz. Mr. Paget's very interesting course 
on pathology. Mr. Paget spoke to the students before I 
joined the class. When I entered and bowed, I received a 
round of applause. My seat is always reserved for me, and 
I have no trouble. There are, I think, about sixty students, 
the most gentlemanly class I have ever seen. I have been 
here about ten days. There are so many physicians and 
surgeons, so many wards, and all so exceedingly busy, that 
I have not yet got the run of the place ; but the medical 
wards are thrown open unreservedly to me, either to follow 
the physician's visits or for private study ; later, I shall 
attend the surgical wards. At first no one knew how to 
regard me. Some thought I must be an extraordinary 
intellect overflowing with knowledge ; others, a queer, 
eccentric woman ; and none seemed to understand that I 
was a quiet, sensible person who had acquired a small 
amount of medical knowledge, and who wished by patient 
observation and study to acquire considerably more. One 
of the old physicians takes much interest in the strange 
little doctor, and has given me valuable hints from his own 
experience ; but I confess that this system of practice is 
both difficult and repellent to me ; I shall, however, study 
it diligently. Mr. Paget, who is very cordial, tells me that 
I shall have to encounter much more prejudice from ladies 
than from gentlemen in my course. I am prepared for 
this. Prejudice is more violent the blinder it is, and I 
think that Englishwomen seem wonderfully shut up in 
their habitual views. But a work of the ages cannot be 
hindered by individual feeling. A hundred years hence 
women will not be what they are now. 

The growing perplexity of the conscientious student 
awakening to the uncertainty of the art of medicine is 
now apparent in letters written at this time. 

Medical Scepticism 139 

November 20, 1850. 
Dear E., — I want to talk to you seriously about the 
future — that is to say, my medical future. It has been a 
heavy, perplexing subject to me on what system I should 
practise, for the old one appeared to me wrong, and I have 
even thought every heresy better ; but since I have been 
looking into these heresies a little more closely I feel as 
dissatisfied with them as with the old one. We hear of 
such wonderful cures continually being wrought by this 
and the other thing, that we forget on how small a number 
the novelty has been exercised, and the failures are never 
mentioned ; but on the same principle, I am convinced that 
if the old system were the heresy, and the heresy the estab- 
lished custom, we should hear the same wonders related of 
the drugs. Neither hydropathy nor mesmerism are what 
their enthusiastic votaries imagine them to be. At Graf en- 
berg I could not hear of one case of perfect cure, and 
unfortunately the undoubtedly great resources of cold 
water are not so developed and classified as to enable a 
young practitioner to introduce it, professedly, into his 
practice. Mesmerism has not converted me since watching 
its effects on patients. I do wish most heartily that I could 
discover more of the remedial agency of magnetism, for 
my conviction is that it ought to be powerfully beneficial in 
some cases ; and as I find they have a magnetic dispensary 
here in London, I shall certainly try and attend it fre- 
quently. I am sorry that I have been unable hitherto to 
attend more to homoeopathy, the third heresy of the 
present time, but I am trying now to find out opportunities. 
Here I have been following now with earnest attention, for 
a few weeks, the practice of a very large London hospital, 
and I find the majority of patients do get well ; so I have 
come to this conclusion — that I must begin with a practice 
which is an old-established custom, which has really more 
expressed science than any other system ; but nevertheless, 
as it dissatisfies me heartily, I shall commence as soon as 
possible building up a hospital in which I can experiment ; 
and the very instant I feel sure of any improvement I shall 
adopt it in my practice, in spite of a whole legion of oppo- 
nents. Now E., future partner, what say you — is it not the 
only rational course ? If I were rich I would not begin 

140 Pioneer Work 

private practice, but would only experiment ; as, however, 
I am poor, I have no choice. I look forward with great 
interest to the time when you can aid me in these matters, 
for I have really no medical friend ; all the gentlemen I 
meet seem separated by an invincible, invisible barrier, and 
the women who take up the subject partially are inferior. 
It will not always be so ; when the novelty of the innova- 
tion is past, men and women will be valuable friends in 
medicine, but for a time that cannot be. I spend now about 
three or four hours each day in the wards, chiefly medical, 
diagnosing disease, watching the progress of cases, and 
accustoming my ear to the stethoscope. Already, in this 
short time, I feel that I have made progress, and detect 
sounds that I could not distinguish on my entrance. I 
advise you, E., to familiarise yourself with the healthy 
sounds of the chest. When you go home, auscultate all the 
family ; you will find quite a variety in the sounds, though 
all may be healthy persons. Lay a cloth over the chest and 
listen with the ear simply ; it is as good as a stethoscope 
with clean people. I wish I could lend you my little black 
stethoscope that I brought from the Maternite. 

I have been disappointed in one thing here — the Pro- 
fessor of Midwifery and the Diseases of Women and 
Children wrote me a very polite note, telling me that he 
entirely disapproved of a lady's studying medicine, and 
begging me to consider that his neglecting to give me aid 
was owing to no disrespect to me as a lady, but to his 
condemnation of my object. 

By-the-by, I must tell you of a scientific explanation of 
the toughness of meat which I obtained from Mr. Paget's 
lecture the other morning ; it arises from cooking meat 
during the vigor mortis ! Would not that be a delicate 
suggestion for a squeamish individual ? . . . 

28 Thavies Inn : 1850 
Dear Dr. Dickson, — I believe that my kind preceptor 
and earliest medical friend will be interested in a little 
account of my foreign life. 

My request for permission to attend St. Bartholomew's 
Hospital was cordially granted, and I have received a 
friendly welcome from professors and students. I have the 
full rights of a student granted to me. I do not attend 

Studies at St. Bartholomew's 141 

many of the lectures, but confine my attention chiefly to 
the practice of the hospital, and at present, more particu- 
larly, to the medical practice. If I remain through the 
summer, I shall gradually extend my visits to the surgical 
and other wards, as I am particularly anxious to become 
widely acquainted with disease. I am obliged to feel very 
sceptical as to the wisdom of much of the practice which I 
see pursued every day. I try very hard to believe, I con- 
tinually call up my own inexperience and the superior 
ability of the physicians whose actions I am watching ; but 
my doubts will not be subdued, and render me the more 
desirous of obtaining the bedside knowledge of sickness 
which will enable me to commit heresy with intelligence in 
the future, if my convictions impel me to it. I hope you 
will forgive this confession of want of faith, which I do not 
venture to make to my present instructors, for the English 
are in general too conservative to have sympathy with 
unbelief, however honest. 

I do not find so active a spirit of investigation in the 
English professors as in the French. In Paris this spirit per- 
vaded young and old, and gave a wonderful fascination to 
the study of medicine, which even I, standing only on the 
threshold, strongly felt. There are innumerable medical 
societies there, and some of the members are always on the 
eve of most important discoveries ; a brilliant theory is 
almost proved, and creates intense interest ; some new plan 
of treatment is always exciting attention in the hospitals, 
and its discussion is widely spread by the immense crowds 
of students freely admitted. The noble provision of free 
lectures, supported by the French Government, increases 
this tendency ; the distinguished men who fill the chairs in 
these institutions have all the leisure and opportunity neces- 
sary for original investigation, and a receptive audience 
always ready to reflect the enthusiasm of the teacher. I 
have often listened to some of these eloquent men in the 
College of France, their natural eloquence increased by the 
novelty or brilliant suggestions of the subject, till I shared 
fully in the enthusiasm of the assembly ; and then, in the 
excited feeling of the moment, I would enter with some 
friend into the beautiful adjacent garden of the Luxem- 
bourg, and, sitting down at the foot of some noble statue, we 
would prolong the interest by discussion ; while the brilliant 

142 Pioneer Work 

atmosphere, the trees, the wind and the water, the fine old 
palace and the varied groups of people moving amongst the 
flowers, contributed to the charm of the moment, producing 
some of the intensest pleasurable sensations I have ever 
enjoyed. I cannot wonder that students throng to Paris, 
instead of to the immense smoke-hidden London ; here 
there is no excitement, all moves steadily onward, con- 
stantly but without enthusiasm. No theory sets the world 
on fire till it is well established, and the German observers 
are much more studied than the French. Everything is 
stamped by good sense and clear substantial thought ; my 
respect is fully commanded, but I often long for a visit to 
the College of France and a stroll in the Luxembourg. 

Whilst devoting all my daytime to the rare advan- 
tage of practical study so providentially opened to me, 
the evenings were in another direction equally delightful 
and beneficial. I was sitting, one dull afternoon, in my 
bare lodging-house drawing-room, somewhat regretfully 
thinking of the bright skies of Paris and pleasant study 
under the trees of the Luxembourg Garden, when the 
door opened and three young ladies entered, and intro- 
duced themselves as Miss Bessie Rayner Parkes and 
the Misses Leigh Smith. 

This proved the commencement of a lifelong friend- 
ship. These ladies were filled with a noble enthusiasm 
for the responsible and practical work of women in the 
various duties of life. They warmly sympathised in my 
medical effort, and were connected with that delightful 
society of which Lady Noel Byron, Mrs. Follen, Mrs. 
Jameson, the Herschels, and Faraday were distin- 
guished members, and with which the Rev. Mr. Morris 
and the Hon. Russell Gurney were in full sympathy. 

My young friends hung my dull rooms with their 
charming paintings, made them gay with flowers, 
and welcomed me to their family circles with the 
heartiest hospitality. 

A bright social sun henceforth cheered the some- 
what sombre atmosphere of my hospital life ; for 
when the day's duties were accomplished there was 

Descriptive Letters 143 

always some pleasant social gathering, or some con- 
cert or lecture attended with friends, to refresh the 
medical student. I often walked home from my 
friends in the West between twelve and one at night 
(being too poor to engage cabs), not exhausted, but 
invigorated for the next day's work. Lady Noel 
Byron became warmly interested in my studies. I 
went with her to Faraday's lectures, visited her at 
Brighton, and she long remained one of my corre- 

One of my most valued acquaintances was Miss 
Florence Nightingale, then a young lady at home, but 
charing against the restrictions that crippled her active 
energies. Many an hour we spent by my fireside in 
Thavies Inn, or walking in the beautiful grounds of 
Embley, discussing the problem of the present and 
hopes of the future. To her, chiefly, I owed the awaken- 
ing to the fact that sanitation is the supreme goal of 
medicine, its foundation and its crown. 

My acquaintance also with Professor Georgii, the 
Swedish professor of kinesipathy and the favourite 
disciple of Brandt, whose consultation-rooms in 
Piccadilly I often visited, strengthened my faith in 
the employment of hygienic measures in medicine. 
When, in later years, I entered into practice, ex- 
tremely sceptical in relation to the value of drugs 
and ordinary medical methods, my strong faith in 
hygiene formed the solid ground from which I gradu- 
ally built up my own methods of treatment. Looking 
back upon a long medical life, one of my happiest 
recollections is of the number of mothers whom I 
influenced in the healthy education of their children. 

Letters written home at this date indicate the vivid 
interests of the time. 

November 1850. 
Dear E., — The great topics of the day here are the Great 
Industrial Exhibition and Popery. 

On November 5 the bells were ringing and the boys 

144 Pioneer Work 

hurrahing for " Gunpowder Plot Day." This anniversary 
was celebrated with more enthusiasm than usual from the 
Pope's having appointed a Cardinal Archbishop of England, 
and " No Popery " placards are posted everywhere. 

The great building of iron and glass for the Exhibition is 
rapidly rising in Hyde Park, and the papers in this rank- 
loving country duly inform us whenever Prince Albert 
comes in from Windsor to inspect its progress, and further- 
more that the Prince is modelling a group of statuary, and 
the Queen designing a carpet, to figure in the display. The 
last time I was at the Twamleys' we drove round to see the 
building, which is a curious sight from the delicate appear- 
ance of the immense quantity of iron framework ; it looks 
too fragile to support a crowd, and yet it will hold myriads. 
There is a splendid old elm tree which they have enclosed 
in the building, and his great black arms look in strange 
contrast to the surrounding tracery. 

December 24, 1850. 
Dear M., — I was just stretching myself after breakfast, 
and thinking that I must put on my boots and turn out into 
the horrible fog that was darkening daylight, when your 
welcome letter came, and it being holiday time I treated 
myself to an immediate perusal. I must beg you not to 
imagine me sitting in a large bare room in an inn. The term 
" inn " is only applied in this case to a particularly quiet 
and respectable little street. The term "Inns of Court " 
means a number of buildings round an open court, with- 
drawn from the street, entered by an arched passage under 
some house, and used now or at some former time for law 
purposes. That was the origin of Thavies Inn ; it was 
formerly a portion of an old law court, and is particularly 
proper, having iron gates at the archway, which are shut at 
night, and a porter living in the little house at the entrance, 
who is always on the look-out for beggars or other un- 
respectable characters ; and the way in which a little barrel 
organ that has managed to slip in is " shut up " at the first 
bar has always amused me, and provoked me at the same 
time. The room also, which was bare enough at first, has 
assumed a much more homelike aspect since two young 
friends sent me some pictures to hang on the walls, and a 
portfolio of paintings, with a little stand on which to place 

Rise of the Woman's Rights Movement 145 

a new one every day ; and having turned the sideboard 
into a bookcase, I can assure you it looks quite comfortable 
when I have drawn the round table to the fire and settled 
down for the evening. 

Your letter alludes to many topics of interest. First of 
all this " Woman's Rights Convention," held at Worcester, 
Mass. I have read through all the proceedings carefully. 
They show great energy, much right feeling, but not, to my 
judgment, a great amount of strong, clear thought. This 
last, of course, one ought not to expect in the beginning ; 
but in my own mind I have settled it as a society to respect, 
to feel sympathy for, to help incidentally, but not — for me 
— to work with body and soul. I cannot sympathise fully 
with an anti-man movement. I have had too much kind- 
ness, aid, and just recognition from men to make such 
attitude of women otherwise than painful ; and I think the 
true end of freedom may be gained better in another way. 
I was touched by the kind remembrance of W. H. C, which 
placed my name on the Industrial Committee ; and if I 
were in America and called on to attend I should certainly 
send them a note full of respect and sympathy ; but I must 
keep my energy for what seems to me a deeper movement. 
But I think you did perfectly right to act on the Education 
Committee, and if I can send you any information I will 
gladly do so. But I feel a little perplexed by the main 
object of the Convention — Woman's Rights. The great 
object of education has nothing to do with woman's rights, 
or man's rights, but with the development of the human 
soul and body. But let me know how you mean to treat the 
subject, and I will render you what aid I can. . . . My 
head is full of the idea of organisation, but not organisation 
of women in opposition to men. I have been lately meditat- 
ing constantly on this idea, and seeking some principle of 
organisation which should be a constantly growing one, 
until it became adequate to meet the wants of the time. . . . 
This horrible fact of immorality has weighed upon me fear- 
fully since I came to London, for I believe in no city in the 
world does it show itself so publicly as it does here. In Paris 
it is legalised and hidden, and is recognised and profitable 
as a branch of the Government ! 

In the United States it is not so old and widespread 
(written in 1850) ; but here in London it has been let alone, 

146 Pioneer Work 

has taken an unrestrained course, exists to a fearful extent, 
and shows itself conspicuously in its lowest form. At all 
hours of the night I see groups of our poor wretched sisters, 
standing at every corner of the streets, decked out in their 
best, which best is generally a faded shawl and even tattered 
dress, seeking their wretched living ; and many aching 
hearts I have seen looking through the thin, hungry 
features. But I will not pain you further ; you know the 
general fact, though you have never had it pressed home to 
you in a thousand ways, as I have. My great dream is of a 
grand moral reform society, a wide movement of women in 
this matter ; the remedy to be sought in every sphere of 
life — radical action — not the foolish application of plasters, 
that has hitherto been the work of the so-called " moral 
reform " societies ; we must leave the present castaway, 
but redeem the rising generation. In my own mind I have 
divided my " Union " into many branches, several of which 
I see Mr. Channing has proposed for this " Woman's Rights 
Society." Education to change both the male and female 
perverted character ; industrial occupation, including 
formation of a priesthood of women ; colonial operations, 
clubs, homes, social unions, a true Press, and many other 
things, have been among my visions ; and the whole so 
combined that it could be brought to bear on any outrage 
or prominent evil. In England I should seek to interest the 
Queen, and place her, as the highest representative of 
womanhood, at the head of this grand moral army. Indeed, 
many of my modifications naturally fit themselves to 
English society, which is immediately around one. When I 
return to America, of course the European mould of my 
thoughts will drop off, and fit itself to the New World ; but 
it never can be an anti-man movement. . . . One thing 
now pleases me much ; all the women seem to like me, 
from the aristocratic Miss Montgomery, bosom friend of one 
of the Queen's maids of honour, down to the humble sisters 
of the hospital, all welcome me, and many with enthusiasm. 
I have passed several delightful evenings with Mrs. Follen, 
Mrs. Jameson, and the Chapmans ; the De Morgans, 
Morells, and many others are unceasing in their kindness. 
I find these people varying in religion and everything else, 
but all alive and open to progressive ideas — if they are not 
shocked back. There seems to be a very large class of 

Visit to Lady Byron 147 

this kind, who are not united in any special effort, but in 
whom the true ideas are germinating, which will some time 
—perhaps in their children, for things move slowly in 
England— reach a perfect development. It is ray impression, 
for I ought only to put it in that modest form, that the cor- 
responding class in America is less humane, more addicted 
to money-getting and party spirit ; and that reform ideas in 
America are much more talked of, but less acted on. . . . 

April 4, 1 85 1. 

Dear E., — I have been very gay lately, with so many 
social entertainments. One evening at the Hon. Miss 
Murray's I saw the Duchess of Buckingham, Duke of 
Argyll, Marquis of Lansdowne, and many distinguished 
people, Sir Lyon Playfair, Sir John Herschel, the Speaker 
of the House of Commons, &c. But my studies go steadily 
on, and I do enjoy going round with Dr. Baly ; he is so 
gentle and friendly, and so learned in his art, that he 
teaches me more than anyone else. I wish I could go 
round with him oftener. . . . 

But I must tell you of a delightful three days' visit that 
I made to Lady Byron at Brighton a week ago. I had heard 
her most highly spoken of, and her connection with the poet 
has thrown a romance around her ; so when I received 
through Miss Montgomery an invitation from her, stating 
that she had herself paid some attention to medical matters 
and would be most happy to see me, and that her friend 
Dr. King would do the honours of the well-arranged 
hospital at Brighton, I determined to accept, and give my- 
self a three days' treat. I arrived in Brighton one bright, 
blowing afternoon. Nearly three miles of good stone 
houses face the broad sea, the road in front of them forming 
a delightful elevated promenade open to the spray and the 
Atlantic winds. In the distance at one extremity was 
Beachy Head, at the other the projecting point that hid 
Portsmouth, and far out, dim in the distance, lay the Isle 
of Wight. Bare, rounded, green hills formed the back- 
ground to the town. In the bow- windowed parlour of one 
of these large stone houses I was set down, and soon after, 
Lady Byron, who had been to the railroad to look for me, 
entered — a slender, rather small, but venerable-looking 
lady of sixty, with fair complexion, delicate features, and 

148 Pioneer Work 

grey hair. She welcomed me kindly, and conversed for a 
little while with a gentle, benevolent manner, but a voice 
that had a very sad tone in it. I found that she was a 
confirmed invalid, and learned afterwards that she had 
never recovered from the blow caused by the conduct of 
her husband, whom she had worshipped with real idolatry. 
Then we went out to see the sunset and some electrical 
apparatus, and on our return I was introduced to Mrs. 
Jameson, the authoress, who was paying a little visit, and 
to Dr. King, a beautiful old gentleman, more of a philoso- 
pher, however, than a physician. The next morning I had a 
delightful tete-a-tete breakfast with Mrs. Jameson, who is a 
charming person with a warm Irish heart, an exquisite 
appreciation of art, and a deep interest in all high reform. 
Meanwhile it had begun to rain and the wind battered the 
house furiously, but nevertheless I went in the carriage 
with Dr. King to visit the hospital and a famous manu- 
factory of mineral waters. I returned in a hurry to go off 
with Mrs. Jameson and hear Fanny Kemble read Mac- 
beth. This was a great treat, for I had never heard Shake- 
speare well given. I had caught a glimpse of Fanny 
Kemble the evening before, when Mrs. Jameson had 
brought her back from reading the Midsummer Night's 
Dream. She entered the parlour for a few minutes, throw- 
ing open the door and declaiming a tragic Shakespearean 
quotation, dressed in rose-coloured satin, with a crimson 
mantle trimmed with white fur, a large bouquet in her 
bosom, her jet-black hair braided low down, with large 
black eyes, and a grand, deep-toned voice. She sat on the 
sofa beside Lady Byron — a most strange contrast. She was 
really magnificent in Macbeth, dressed in black velvet 
trimmed with ermine, and Mrs. Jameson, who sat beside 
me, was in raptures. 

The longer I saw Lady Byron the more she interested 
me ; her insight and judgment are admirable, and I never 
met with a woman whose scientific tendencies seemed so 
strong. She seemed well versed in medicine and was her 
own physician, having consulted many physicians who 
were quite unable to aid her ; she has for many years taken 
particular interest in labour schools, and has some admir- 
ably arranged on her estates. I much enjoyed my conversa- 
tion with her, for she has a rare intelligence and a long 

At Brighton 149 

experience. On Sunday she took me to hear a most 
eloquent preacher, a Mr. Robertson, who preached on the 
wisdom of Solomon and Christ. He is now in the Estab- 
lished Church, but will, I imagine, soon work himself out, 
for he is continually progressing, and has already drawn 
upon himself much persecution from his professional 
brethren. I certainly never heard his equal in torrent-like 
eloquence ; it was quite a flood. 

How gloriously the wind howled round the house at 
night ! As I lay in bed and listened to the wind and the 
heavy swell of the waves, it was delicious. There is a pier 
built far out into the water as a private promenade. I had 
a beautiful walk there all alone one evening at sunset as the 
tide was coming in. On Sunday afternoon I was obliged to 
leave my new friends. Lady Byron, in a purple velvet 
mantle lined with white silk, a rich dress, and a purple 
satin bonnet trimmed with black lace, escorted me to the 
cars and put me into the second class, which economy 
obliged me to take. With the most hearty shake of the 
hand we parted, and we have exchanged several notes 
since I returned, for, as I said, she interests me, and I want 
to know more of her. • ' 

I have a standing invitation to Mrs. Jameson's Thursday 
evening meetings, of which I shall try to avail myself fre- 
quently. Life opens to me in London, social life particu- 
larly ; but I am looking with pleasure to my return. I am 
too impatient to begin my practical career to be able to 
stay anywhere much longer where that is not to be com- 
menced. . . . 

April 7. — Miss Murray invited me to see the Queen's 
favourite little German baron, but I did not accept ; for to 
go such a distance on foot or in omnibus in my silk dress to 
meet people with whom I should probably have little 
sympathy, and to whom I should only seem a quiet, ill- 
dressed person, seemed to me foolish. . . . Spent the 
evening at Mrs. Follen's. Miss Montgomery told me a very 
strange story of her father's " double " appearing to her 
and her brother when they were children playing together 
during his absence in London. They were amusing them- 
selves by dressing up in clothes taken from a closet on the 
staircase, when, hearing their father's study door open and 
fearing reproof, they shut themselves in the closet, watch- 

150 Pioneer Work 

ing through a crack of the door their father in his dressing- 
gown with a candle in his hand slowly ascend the staircase. 
They then remembered that their father had gone to 
London, and rushed up to their mother's room, where she 
was dressing for a party, exclaiming, " Papa has come 
home ! We saw him come out of the library with a candle 
in his hand and go upstairs." The authority of this story 
was unimpeachable, the details minute. What must one 
think of it ? . . . 

April 17. — Went down with my friend Florence to 
Embley Park. The laurels were in full bloom. Examined 
the handsome house and beautiful grounds. Saturday a 
perfect day. Walked much with Florence in the delicious 
air, amid a luxury of sights and sounds, conversing on the 
future. As we walked on the lawn in front of the noble 
drawing-room she said, " Do you know what I always 
think when I look at that row of windows ? I think how I 
should turn it into a hospital ward, and just how I should 
place the beds ! " She said she should be perfectly happy 
working with me, she should want no other husband. 

April 20. — A beautiful Sabbath morning. Saw the sea 
and Isle of Wight in the distance ; watched the peasants' 
picturesque scarlet cloaks going to church. As we crossed 
the fields, conversing on religious matters, it was a true 
communion. . . . 

May 1. — A most brilliant opening of the Great Exhi- 
bition. Thanks to Cousin S., who is an exhibitor, we 
enjoyed a sight which we shall always remember. The 
place was so vast that the musical sound of the great organ 
was lost in the beating of the air. The great building, 
resplendent with the products of the whole world, was 
tilled to overflowing with enthusiastic spectators. When 
the Queen, holding Prince Albert's arm, with the young 
Prince of Wales on one side and the Princess Royal on the 
other, followed by the aged Duke of Wellington arm in arm 
with the Marquis of Anglesea, and a long train of nobility 
and distinguished men, made the tour of the building and 
declared it open, it was indeed a memorable sight. 

The advisability of remaining in England and 
establishing myself in practice in London was seriously 
considered at this time. Under other circumstances I 

Leaving England 151 

should gladly have made the attempt, for I was strongly 
attracted to my native land. But I was extremely 
poor, with no capital to fall back on, and with a great 
horror of running into debt ; neither had I any circle 
of family friends to aid me, and whilst I saw the im- 
portance of a settlement in London, I realised also its 
difficulties. Meanwhile the years of my study in 
America had produced their effect there. Popular 
feeling had sanctioned the effort. In both Phila- 
delphia and Boston attempts were being made to form 
schools for women. My sister Emily also had adopted 
the medical life. She had entered the Medical College 
of Cleveland, Ohio, and was looking forward to joining 
me ultimately in the medical work ; my own family 
also, to whom I was warmly attached, were fully 
expecting my return. 

I determined, therefore, after much anxious con- 
sideration, to make my first settlement in New York, 
hoping in ten or fifteen years' time to have attained a 
position, when I might be able to work in England. 
The parting from English friends and opportunities 
was a painful one. 

London : May 5. 
I gave the day to Florence, who is about leaving, un- 
certain whether she will see me again. We heard Mr. Ellis 
lecture at the National Association on Political Economy. 
We also visited the Verral Hospital, but were not favour- 
ably impressed by the judiciousness of the exercises. Dined 
with her at the Bracebridges', and parted from her with tears. 

May 20. — Visited Guy's Hospital, Dr. Oldham doing the 
honours most kindly. The museum is the best for study 
that I have yet seen. There are about 600 beds in the 
hospital ; twenty are for midwifery, especially under Dr. 
Oldham's care, providing about 1800 cases in the year, and 
looked after by four young students, who are maintained 
by the hospital for that purpose. There was a room 
especially devoted to electrical treatment. The whole 
establishment bore the marks of wealth. 

July 15. — Wished Dr. Oldham good-bye, who expressed 

152 Pioneer Work 

great friendliness, wished to see my sister should she visit 
England, and offers to make an application for admission 
to Guy's Hospital. . . . 

July 17. — Said good-bye to Mr. Paget, Dr. Burrows, 
Dr. Hue, &c. — in fact, cut my connection with the hospitals. 
Did it with much regret ; all were extremely kind, ex- 
pressing the utmost interest and respect for the work. Mrs. 
Paget introduced me to a lady as " a benefactor to the 
race," and hoped to hear of me through Mr. Paget. He 
spoke of the perfectly satisfactory nature of the experi- 
ment, and that it may be done by another lady under 
similar circumstances, but not as a simple student, he 
thinks. Dr. Burrows also was extremely friendly, and paid 
me indirectly the highest compliment, as having " estab- 
lished a principle for others, by the success of my laudable 
enterprise ; he thought that quite a new idea had been 
gained in this matter, which would help anyone else in 
future." I found also, with mingled sadness and triumph, 
that now I might do anything I pleased at St. Bartholo- 
mew's. They have learned to know and welcome me as I 
am going away, and are, as Mr. Paget said, sorry to lose me. 

Last Days in England — Farewells 

Saturday, July 19, 1851. — I have wished all good-bye, 
and am now ready to go. Much as I regret England, my 
deepest feelings are with my work, which I always carry 
with me. . . . Bessie P. spent part of the day with me. We 
parted with a few cheerful words, but I saw her face colour 
with emotion as she looked back and saw me watching her 
from the door. Beautiful, true heart ! it grieves me deeply 
to part from her. . . . 

Monday, 21st. — Left London at seven o'clock. A. turned 
from me in tears. I felt very sad as I looked at her thin face 
and thought of all she has suffered, and will suffer. ... In 
the evening I met a cordial welcome at Dudley. . . . Howy 
and I made an expedition to Worcester and Malvern ; it 
gave us an opportunity for much intimate conversation. 
We had lovely weather, and found the country exceedingly 
beautiful. Rode up the Worcestershire Beacon on donkeys, 
eating, talking, and laughing at our entanglement with 
other parties, and enchanted with the prospect ; there was 

Last Days in England 153 

a tent on the hill, and parties dancing. We slid all the way 
down, and walked by Gully's and Wilson's water-cure 
establishments. Visited the noble old Worcester Cathedral, 
but looked in vain for our crest of arms, said to be there on 
the windows. Went over Grainger's china manufactory ; 
the production of cups and saucers on the wheel was like 
magic. . . . 

To Liverpool, but found the ship would not sail until 
Saturday. The very sight of it made me sick ; so Cousin 
S. accompanied me to Manchester, where we had a very 
interesting visit. Mr. Wilson, an intelligent business man, 
escorted us over a large cotton manufactory. It was of 
exceeding interest. Eight hundred looms were at work in 
one room ; mostly tended by women and many very young 
girls. We commenced our inspection by descending by 
ropes deep down into the vaults, where the cotton arrives 
from America and India ; we then proceeded through room 
after room where all the processes were conducted, from 
breaking up the bales, tearing to pieces, sorting, carding, 
forming into sheets, twisting, spinning, weaving, and finally 
measuring and folding the cloth. We went up and down, 
by movable trap-doors, underground from street to street, 
all through the immense establishment. The noise was 
tremendous, the dust and heat oppressive. I noticed 
closely the workwomen, who seemed brutified by their 
toil ; their physiognomies were assuming the projecting 
mouth of the lower animals. Most of them carried their 
hair-comb stuck in the back of their head ; they were 
mostly youngish women, sallow and perspiring, and I 
noticed one woman so exhausted that she was obliged con- 
tinually to sit down ; they had often more than one loom 
to feed. They keep the men and women separate in their 
work as far as possible. . . . 

Saturday, 26th. — Actually my last day on this noble 
British land ! I left pale good Cousin S. standing in the 
street of Dudley ; watched dear H. running up the rail- 
way bank as I rushed off in the train ; and then I felt that 
I was indeed severed from England, and only anxious to 
get through my journey. I found myself at night on board 
ship, out in the Mersey. Another most important page in 
life fairly closed ! 

Adieu, dear friends ! Heaven keep us all ! 



The first seven years of New York life were years of 
very difficult, though steady, uphill work. It was 
carried on without cessation and without change from 
town, either summer or winter. I took good rooms in 
University Place, but patients came very slowly to 
consult me. I had no medical companionship, the 
profession stood aloof, and society was distrustful of 
the innovation. Insolent letters occasionally came by 
post, and my pecuniary position was a source of 
constant anxiety. 

Soon after settling down I made an application to be 
received as one of the physicians in the women's 
department of a large City dispensary ; but the appli- 
cation was refused, and I was advised to form my own 

My keenest pleasure in those early days came from 
the encouraging letters received from the many valued 
English friends who extended across the ocean the 
warm sympathy they had shown in London. They 
strengthened that feeling of kinship to my native land 
which finally drew me back to it. 

A correspondence with Lady Byron, which ex- 
tended over some years, was particularly encourag- 
ing ; for the strong scientific tastes of this admirable 
woman, as well as her large benevolence, led her to take 
a steady interest in the study of medicine by women. 

The following is a characteristic letter from this 
valued friend : — 

Brighton : December 9, 1851. 
I received your letter some days ago, and have ever since 
longed to write to you. The business which has chiefly 


Letter from Lady Byron 155 

prevented me is of a nature to interest you. A conference, 
originating with Miss Carpenter, is to be held at Birming- 
ham to-morrow between chaplains, governors of gaols, 
magistrates, and a few ladies on the means of saving the 
young from sin and reforming them after its commission. 
I could not attend, and perhaps can render as much service 
in absence, indirectly. Miss Murray, Mr. Rathbone of 
Liverpool, Mrs. Jameson, and Miss Montgomery will be 

The subject of this letter is to be the magnetoscope. The 
pamphlet by Mr. Rutter shall be sent you. Since its publi- 
cation new discoveries have been made and amply tested, 
and of these I will try to give you some account. One 
objection received as conclusive against the reality of the 
magnetic influence from the operator was that the motions 
of the pendulum suspended from the instrument were 
produced solely by unconscious muscular movement on the 
part of the operator. Although to engineers and persons 
acquainted with the laws of motion this rotation of the 
pendulum in the instrument appeared to be a strange new 
mechanical power, yet the Royal College of Physicians and 
the Lancet decreed that it should be explained by in- 
voluntary muscular movement, and one M.D. of eminence 
wrote a letter to me implying that believers in the magneto- 
scope were to be classed with Mormons. 

It has since been proved beyond a doubt by Mr. Rutter 
that the touch of the poles of a magnet or crystal to the 
spot before touched by the hand will be followed by move- 
ments exactfy similar, the rotation being from east to west 
or from west to east, according as the north or south pole 
of the crystal is directed to the spot. After contact it 
occurred to Mr. R. to try pointing only with the poles of the 
crystal held in his hand. The same effect ensued. What 
becomes of the muscular impulse theory ? Another 
objection is now considered as fatal— that when the eyes 
are closed all motion is stopped if the operator is either 
holding the thread or touching the magnetoscope. Ergo, 
they say, it is all imposture. But is there not another light 
thrown by this on the power of the eyes — on their " electric 
glance " ? It is stated in Carpenter's Animal Physiology 
that a woman whose left arm was palsied could hold up a 
child with it as long as she looked at it. When she closed her 

156 Pioneer Work 

eyes the arm dropped. A Mr. John Dimson, well known 
now in Brighton, has a paralytic affection of his feet, and 
cannot walk unless he fixes his eyes upon them. To this fact 
Mr. and Mrs. Bracebridge (Florence's friends) and Lady 
Easthope have recently given me their attestation as eye- 
witnesses, and I understand that the fact is observed at 
German baths for lame patients. 

With the disposition, then, to " pooh-pooh " the dis- 
covery in London, I think it will probably be left to 
America — perhaps to you ! — to evolve the truth. There- 
fore I shall feel it my duty to put you in possession of facts 
bearing upon it. I have, however, had the satisfaction of 
seeing conviction produced on the mind of one of our most 
distinguished geologists, who perceived the connection 
between the influences of magnetism and metals on the 
pendulum, and some of the subterranean operations, par- 
ticularly mineral springs. (My hand is tired and must rest.) 

The application of magnetism to the principle of life is 
most satisfactory to me. The unification of the magnetism 
of the human head by finding that the pendulum is influ- 
enced by it, exactly as by a real magnet, that the poles 
correspond, the forehead being north when the person is 
upright. (Changes take place in the recumbent position.) 
This is when a person stands in any direction, live bodies 
being independently magnetic. It is the case even with an 
egg new laid. After boiling, that power ceases, and it is a 
magnet only by induction, like any other inorganic matter. 
In trying experiments the feet must not be crossed, nor the 
legs, nor the hands clasped, nor thumbs joined. These 
attitudes all occasion the motions to stop — for they com- 
plete this circuit — analogous to electrical phenomena. 
After all, I have not told you what appears the most 
curious fact in its consequences, that (as far as yet tried) 
the body loses its influence on the magnetoscope in sleep. 
Its polarity is gone, as in death ! " Twin brothers ! " 

On reading over what I have written I perceive a want of 
explicitness, which I hope the pamphlet will make up. I 
will divide it into sheets to be sent in letters. 

With a strong feeling that the ocean is not distance, 

Yours most truly, 

A. I. Noel Byron. 

Publication of "Laws of Life" 157 

At this time I employed the leisure hours of a young 
physician in preparing some lectures on the physical 
education of girls, which were delivered in a basement 
Sunday school room in the spring of 1852. 

These lectures, owing to the social and professional 
connections which resulted from them, gave me my 
first start in practical medical life. They were attended 
by a small but very intelligent audience of ladies, and 
amongst them were some members of the Society of 
Friends, whose warm and permanent interest was soon 
enlisted. Indeed, my practice during those early years 
became very much a Quaker practice ; and the institu- 
tions which sprang up later owed their foundation to 
the active support of this valuable section of the 
community. The family of Mr. Stacy B. Collins, a 
highly respected member of the Society of Friends, 
will always be affectionately remembered. They first 
engaged me as the family physician. The grand- 
daughter, now Dr. Mary B. Hussey, was my " first 
baby " ; and a warm friendship continues into the 
third generation. The names also of Robert Hay dock, 
Merritt Trimble, and Samuel Willets will always be 
gratefully remembered in connection with this move- 
ment in New York. These well-known and highly 
respected citizens with their families gradually became 
our most steadfast friends. 

My first medical consultation was a curious experi- 
ence. In a severe case of pneumonia in an elderly lady 
I called in consultation a kind-hearted physician of 
high standing who had been present in Cincinnati at 
the time of my father's fatal illness. This gentleman, 
after seeing the patient, went with me into the parlour. 
There he began to walk about the room in some agita- 
tion, exclaiming, " A most extraordinary case ! Such 
a one never happened to me before ; I really do not 
know what to do ! " I listened in surprise and much 
perplexity, as it was a clear case of pneumonia and of 
no unusual degree of danger, until at last I discovered 

158 Pioneer Work 

that his perplexity related to me, not to the patient, 
and to the propriety of consulting with a lady physi- 
cian ! I was both amused and relieved. I at once 
assured my old acquaintance that it need not be con- 
sidered in the light of an ordinary consultation, if he 
were uneasy about it, but as a friendly talk. So, finally, 
he gave me his best advice ; my patient rapidly got 
well, and happily I never afterwards had any difficulty 
in obtaining a necessary consultation from members of 
the profession. 

In 1852, warmly encouraged by Mrs. Dr. Bellows, I 
published the lectures I had given, under the title, 
The Laws of Life in reference to the Physical Educa- 
tion of Girls. This little work was favourably regarded 
by physicians ; it drew forth an encouraging letter 
from the dean of my college, to my very great gratifica- 
tion. It also happened to fall under Mr. Ruskin's 
notice, and gained his valuable commendation. 

Being still excluded from medical companionship, 
and from the means of increasing medical knowledge 
which dispensary practice affords, I finally determined 
to try and form an independent dispensary. 

In 1853, with the aid of some of my friends, a small 
room was engaged in a poor quarter of the town near 
Tompkin's Square ; one of my Quaker friends, Mrs. 
Cornelia Hussey, actively assisted in arranging drugs, 
covering a screen, &c. This dispensary (afterwards 
moved to Third Street) was opened three afternoons 
in each week, and I had the satisfaction during 
the following two years of finding it welcomed by 
the poor, and steadily enlisting a larger circle of 

In 1854 the Act of Incorporation for an institution 
where women physicians could be available for the 
poor was obtained, and a few well-known citizens 
consented to act as trustees. The first annual report of 
this modest little dispensary is given in the Appendix. 
From this very small beginning have gradually arisen 

Social Trials 159 

the present flourishing institutions of the New York 
Infirmary and College for Women. 

It was during these first early years that, not being 
able to continue the expense of good consultation- 
rooms, I determined to buy a house. A friend lent me 
the necessary money at fair interest, and a house in a 
good situation in Fifteenth Street was selected. This 
transaction proved a very material assistance in many 
different ways, and enabled me to form the home 
centre which is so necessary to the most efficient work. 
In later years also this early experience helped me to 
.realise more fully the fundamental importance of the 
great land question, or " a stake in the soil," as well as 
other weighty social problems. 

The difficulties and trials encountered at this early 
period were severe. Ill-natured gossip, as well as 
insolent anonymous letters, came to me. Although I 
have never met with any serious difficulties in attend- 
ing to my practice at all hours of the night, yet un- 
pleasant annoyances from unprincipled men were not 
infrequent. Some well-dressed man would walk by my 
side on Broadway, saying in a low voice, " Turn down 
Duane Street to the right " ; or whilst waiting for a 
horse-car at midnight by the City Hall a policeman 
would try to take my hand ; or a group of late revellers 
would shout across the street, " See that lone woman 
walking like mad ! " But with common sense, self- 
reliance, and attention to the work in hand, any 
woman can pursue the medical calling without risk. 

The heat of a New York summer also was at this 
time very trying to an English constitution. A letter 
to my sister in 1853 exclaims : — 

Oh, dear ! it is so hot I can hardly write. I was called 
this morning to Flushing to see a sick child, and then 
attended my dispensary, the thermometer varying from 
86 to 90 in the house, and it stood 102 in some rooms down 
town. Walk as deliberately as I would, it made my brain 
seem too large for my head. Flushing reminded me of the 

160 Pioneer Work 

Sahara ; it lay breathless under a cloudless sky, leaden 
with haze. 

In relation to mischievous gossip it is written : — 

These malicious stories are painful to me, for I am 
woman as well as physician, and both natures are wounded 
by these falsehoods. Ah, I am glad I, and not another, 
have to bear this pioneer work. I understand now why 
this life has never been lived before. It is hard, with no 
support but a high purpose, to live against every species 
of social opposition. ... I should like a little fun now 
and then. Life is altogether too sober. 

y t>^ 

The utter loneliness of life became intolerable, and 
in October of 1854 I took a little orphan girl from the 
great emigrant depot of Randall's Island to live with 
me. This congenial child I finally adopted. The 
wisdom of such adoption is abundantly shown by an 
entry in my journal, two years later, written on my 
birthday : — 

On this bright Sunday morning I feel full of hope and 
strength for the future. Kitty plays beside me with her 
doll. She has just given me a candy basket, purchased 
with a penny she had earned, full of delight in " Doctor's 
birthday " ! Who will ever guess the restorative support 
which that poor little orphan has been to me ? When I 
took her to live with me she was about seven and a half 
years old. I desperately needed the change of thought 
she compelled me to give her. It was a dark time, and 
she did me good — her genial, loyal, Irish temperament 
suited me. Now I look forward with much hope to the 
coming events of this year. 

An amusing circumstance relating to this child is 
worth recording. She had always been accustomed to 
call me " Doctor." On one occasion she was present 
during the visit of a friendly physician. After he was 
gone, she came to me with a very puzzled face, ex- 
claiming, " Doctor, how very odd it is to hear a man 
called Doctor ! " 

Drawing-room Address 161 

In December of 1855 I gave a first drawing-room 
" Address on the Medical Education of Women." 

In this address (which was afterwards printed) it 
was shown that the movement was only a revival of 
work in which women had always been engaged ; but 
that it was a revival in an advanced form, suited to 
the age and to the enlarging capabilities of women. 

The clear perception of the providential call to 
women to take their full share in human progress has 
always led us to insist upon a full and identical medical 
education for our students. From the beginning in 
America, and later on in England, we have always 
refused to be tempted by the specious offers urged 
upon us to be satisfied with partial or specialised 
instruction. On the occasion of this address an appeal 
was made for assistance in collecting funds for the 
growth of the dispensary and the gradual formation of 
a hospital, as indispensable for the accomplishment of 
the work. A committee of three ladies was appointed 
at this drawing-room meeting, for the purpose of 
beginning the difficult work of collecting a permanent 

In 1854, my sister, Dr. Emily Blackwell, who had 
graduated with honour at the Medical College of 
Cleveland, Ohio, was pursuing her studies in Europe. 

There she gained invaluable surgical experience 
from having been generously received as assistant by 
Sir James Simpson in his extensive practice in female 
diseases. The genial character of this well-known 
physician was shown not only by his cordial reception 
of Dr. Emily as pupil and assistant, but by an amusing 
incident which occurred whilst his consulting-rooms 
were filled by a waiting assembly of aristocratic 
patients. My sister, being a classical scholar, was often 
employed by the Doctor in making translations or 
extracts for him. On one occasion, whilst thus engaged 
in the farthest room of the suite, he called in a low 
voice, " Dr. Blackwell," then a little louder, " Dr. 


1 62 Pioneer Work 

Blackwell," and when the attention of all his patients 
was thus aroused, he called in a voice loud enough for 
my sister to hear, " Dr. Blackwell ! " and then from 
the corner of his eye, and with intense amusement, he 
watched the varied expressions of surprise and dismay 
depicted on the countenances of his distinguished 
patients as they saw the approach along the suite of 
rooms of a lady who thus answered to the summons. 

The following letters to my medical sister refer to 
this period of the work : — 

New York : May 12. 

I need not tell you with what interest and hope I look 
forward to your Edinburgh news. The prospect is very 
good. . . . One of the most difficult points I have to con- 
tend with here is the entire absence of medical sympathy ; 
the medical solitude is really awful at times ; I should 
thankfully turn to any educated woman if I could find one. 
. . . Pray bear in mind to collect all the information you 
can about maternity, the relation of the sexes, and kindred 
subjects. We have a vast field to work in this direction, for 
reliable information is desperately needed in the world on 
these topics. I feel as if it were peculiarly our duty to meet 
this want. There is much vain thought given to these 
matters here. An active set of people are making desperate 
efforts to spread their detestable doctrine of " free love " 
under scientific guise, placing agents with the advertise- 
ments of their books worded in the most specious and 
attractive manner at the doors of the conventions now 
being held here ; on the other hand, equally misleading 
publications are brought out in opposition. Such teaching 
is utterly superficial and untrustworthy, and consequently 
misleading. We want facts, scientifically accurate ob- 
servations, past and present, on all that bears on these 
matters. . . . 

You remember the pamphlet sent me by Dr. Sims of 
Alabama. He is now here, determined to establish a 
hospital for the special treatment of women's diseases ; 
he is enlisting much support, and will, I think, succeed. 
He seems to be in favour of women studying medicine. I 
think I shall help him in any way I can. . . . 

A New Helper 163 

I have at last found a student in whom I can take a great 
deal of interest — Marie Zackrzewska, a German, about 
twenty-six. Dr. Schmidt, the head of the Berlin midwifery 
department, discovered her talent, advised her to study, 
and finally appointed her as chief midwife in the hospital 
under him ; there she taught classes of about 150 women 
and 50 young men, and proved herself most capable. 
When Dr. Schmidt died, the American Minister advised her 
to come to New York ; but here the German doctors 
wanted her to become a nurse. In desperation she con- 
sulted " The Home for the Friendless," where they advised 
her to come to me. There is true stuff in her, and I shall do 
my best to bring it out. She must obtain a medical 
degree. . . . 

July 24. 

Don't be discouraged. There is no doubt about our 
losing many opportunities because of our sex, but you must 
also bear in mind the disadvantages all students labour 
under, unless in exceptional cases. Crowded together in 
masses, they only see at a distance the most interesting 
cases ; the complete study is reserved for the physician or 
his constant attendant. I remember expressing my im- 
patience while in the Maternite at the restrictive rules 
there, and M. Blot said, " What you wish for are only 
enjoyed by the few who occupy the most favoured 
positions." Yet I gained, in spite of all difficulties, a great 
deal, and in accelerating ratio the longer I stayed. I 
remember that it seemed to me I had gained more in my 
fourth month at the Maternite than in the whole three 
preceding ones. Now I say this because I don't want you 
to over-estimate the worth of pantaloons. Disguise in 
France or elsewhere would by no means give you all you 
need ; if the disguise were complete you would just be 
reduced to the level of the common poor student, and 
would be, I think, quite disappointed. It needs also that 
influential men should take an interest in you, and give 
you chances quite beyond the ordinary run. I know that 
at St. Bartholomew's I would not have exchanged my 
position for that of the simple student, though I would 
gladly for the clinical clerk or interne's position. Now you 
can do nothing in France, except by special medical influ- 
ence. Your time is limited, and you cannot wait for 

164 Pioneer Work 

examinations and promotions as an ordinary student. Yon 
ask me what I did, and what can be done as a lady. I 
entered the Maternite, dissected at l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts 
alone, employed a re-peliteur who drilled me in anatomy 
and smuggled me into the dead-house of La Charite at 
great risk of detection, where I operated on the cadavre. I 
once made the rounds of his wards in the Hotel-Dieu with 
Roux, heard his lectures, and saw his operations. I 
attended lectures on medical generalities at the College of 
France and Jardin des Plantes. I believe that was all in 
the way of Parisian study. I applied to Davenne, Director- 
General of the hospitals, for permission to follow the 
physicians — refused ; applied to Dubois and Trousseau to 
attend lectures at the Ecole de Medecine — refused ; Trous- 
seau advising me to disguise. You see I had no introduc- 
tions, no experience. I went into the Maternite soon after 
going to France, and came out with a sad accident, not 
inclined to renew the battle, not well knowing how, and 
with a promising chance opened to me in London. I 
should do differently now. I should get the most influ- 
ential introduction I could ; I should tell them just what I 
wanted, find what hospitals would be most suited to my 
purpose, and if by putting on disguise I could get either an 
assistant's post or good visiting privilege, I would put it on. 
I don't believe it would be a disguise at all to those you 
were thrown with, but it would be a protection if advised 
by intelligent men, and would make them free to help you. 
I should avoid crowds, because you gain nothing in them ; 
I don't think either the lectures at l'Ecole de Medecine or 
the great hospital visits, where from one to five hundred 
students follow, would be of any use. It is in a more 
private and intimate way, and in hospitals where many 
students do not go, that you might gain. I know no one 
in a position to give you more valuable letters than Dr. 
Simpson, if he is disposed to. You ask me what I saw at 
the Maternite, but I find my notes imperfect ; I have only 
noted down nine versions, &c. But I think the most im- 
portant thing in the Maternite is the drilling in the more 
ordinary labours, for only where the finger is thoroughly 
trained can you detect varieties. The cases you send me 
are very interesting, and I am very glad you have made 
such full notes, as they will be useful hints in future solitary 

Advice on Study 165 

practice. Don't be in a hurry to leave Dr. S., for I fear you 
will nowhere else find a good drilling in that department. 
I shall see how far I can make your notes available from 
time to time in my own practice. With regard to my own 
clientele, I shall have advanced 50 dollars over last year ; 
slow progress, but still satisfactory, as it is reliable practice, 
not capricious success. Only think, the thermometer has 
been up to 102 in some of the rooms down town ! We have 
had three days' " spells " this July that seem to me a little 
beyond anything I have ever had to endure. 

November 13. 
I shall be very anxious to know what you do in Paris. I 
almost doubt the propriety of your entering the Maternite, 
or rather I hope that the necessity may be obviated by your 
finding other openings. That Dubois is somewhat of an old 
fox, and will, I presume, at once advise your entrance, to 
get rid of any responsibility ; but I would not think of 
doing so until I had seen all the others and tried for better 
openings. I think you could get sufficient midwifery at the 
Ecole de Medecine, where the midwives have the night 
cases ; the association would be unpleasant from the 
character of the women, but it would leave you your free- 
dom. You have done excellently in Edinburgh, and nothing 
could be more satisfactory than the way you leave. I think, 
however, before going to Paris you had certainly better see 
Dr. Oldham of Guy's ; he is disposed to be friendly, and if 
he chose might greatly help you. It would seem as if it 
would be well to pursue your English studies before the 
Parisian ; if you could follow Doctors Burrows and Baly 
in medicine at St. Bartholomew's, and Oldham at Guy's, 
you would do well. I am very glad you are collecting 
special medical statistics ; we shall find them very service- 
able in lecture or pamphlet form. It will be necessary next 
year to make an active effort for the dispensary, and I 
think a few lectures would be very important. My con- 
viction becomes constantly stronger that you will return, 
and my plans for the future all involve that fact. A 
pleasant circumstance occurred to my German, Dr. Zackr- 
zewska. I arranged a Cleveland course for her, and she 
entered two weeks ago ; she met a very friendly reception, 
and found that Dr. Kirkland is in correspondence with 

166 Pioneer Work 

Professor Miiller of Berlin, and he had mentioned her in 
some of his letters in such high terms, that the faculty told 
her, if she would qualify herself for examination in surgery 
and chemistry and write an English thesis, that they would 
graduate her at the end of this term. Of course she is 
studying with might and main, and will, I have no doubt, 
succeed ; so we may reckon on a little group of three next 
year. That will be quite encouraging. 

November 27. 

I cannot but feel glad that you rejected the urgent per- 
suasions to go to the Crimea. I cannot say what going to 
Russia might have done for you in English reputation, but 
for America it would have been sheer waste of time. I am 
constantly surprised to see what an entire non-conductor 
of enthusiasm the ocean is, and reputation in England, 
except in very rare cases, is utterly unavailing here. The 
radical differences in national character, and the eager, 
youthful nature of this people, quite prevent full sympa- 
thetic transmission of feeling and recognition of older 
experience. I am vexed to think how completely unavailing 
your Scotch studies will be in the puffing line, but make 
yourself really strong, and we will turn them to the best 
account in another and a better way. Don't forget to bring 
a full earnest testimonial from Simpson and from others as 
you progress. 

I'm delighted you are going to Malvern. Oh, those 
breezy uplands of our native isle ! is anything in Nature so 
delicious as their air and freedom ? My ride with K. over 
the Welsh hills stands alone in my memory, and my slide 
with Howy down Malvern makes my mouth water. 

January 23, 1855. 
Your letter came yesterday, giving me an account of M.'s 
relapse and the many anxieties you have suffered lately. I 
confess to feeling an intense anxiety about her notwith- 
standing the hope conveyed in your letter, and I shall look 
to the coming of the postman with dread for the next three 
weeks lest he should bring me evil news. You have been 
pursuing your studies in a way we did not anticipate the 
last eight weeks, but very surely it is not lost time ; the 
responsibilities of such a case will strengthen you for every 
future case, and as an illustration of or commentary on Dr. 

Women and the New York Hospital 167 

S.'s practice, I don't think it will be lost to you. The whole 
case from beginning to end strikes me as a horrid barbarism, 
but at the same time I fully allow that it is the way to make 
a reputation. M.'s death would be little to him, the 
responsibility would be staved off in a dozen different ways, 
and if she succeeded in her object, no end to the trumpeting 
of his praise ! I see every day that it is the " heroic," self- 
reliant, and actively self-imposing practitioner that excites 
a sensation and reputation ; the rational and conscientious 
physician is not the famous one. 

I have just heard one piece of news which decidedly 
indicates progress and which is peculiarly cheering to me, 
because I am persuaded that I have been chiefly instru- 
mental in it. The New York Hospital has opened its doors 
to women this winter ; there is now a class of eight women, 
all pupils from Dr. Trail's hydropathic institute, who attend 
regularly the clinical visits and lectures in the amphitheatre 
with all the other students. The matter was discussed in 
full board, Trimble and Collins both advocating, and it 
was resolved to make the experiment, Drs. Smith, Buck, 
and Watson, the then attending physicians, being present 
and consenting, quite concurring in the principle, and only 
pleading the embarrassment they should themselves occa- 
sionally feel. Mr. Trimble assured them they would soon 
conquer their bashfulness ! Thus far, it seems, there has 
been no difficulty. I consider the matter so important 
that I intend at once to take the hospital ticket and watch 
the experiment in person as closely as I can. I only wish 
the girls came from other than quack auspices. 

Do the " knockings " prevail at all in England ? it is 
astonishing how they increase here. Judge Edmunds has 
published two large volumes, which are astonishing, I 
think, as a record of self-deception or credulity. The pro- 
moters hold public discussions in the tabernacle, publish 
endless literature, and have hired a large house in Broad- 
way at 2200 dollars, and Katy Fox at a salary of 1200 
dollars per annum to give free demonstrations to whoever 
wishes to investigate the truth of " this wonderful new 
revelation." I attended one of these free sittings lately at 
Mrs. B.'s invitation. It was a curious physical phenomenon, 
to my mind of the animal magnetism order. My few 
questions were all answered wrong ; but Mrs. B. and many 

1 68 Pioneer Work 

others asked similar questions, the answers of which she 
knew, and they were answered promptly and correctly. 
Everyone who queried with eager temperament got prompt 
and correct replies, independent of Katy Fox's volition. It 
was odd, but quite disgusting in the view taken of it, as an 
ultra-mundane exhibition. 

Establishment of a hospital. — In 1856 my working 
powers were more than doubled by the arrival of my 
sister, Dr. Emily Blackwell, who became henceforth 
my partner and able co-worker. Dr. Maria E. Zackr- 
zewska also joined us as soon as she had graduated at 
Cleveland, and became for some years before her 
removal to Boston our active and valued assistant in 
the New York work. 

The refreshing Sunday walks taken with this warm- 
hearted doctor when, crossing the bay by an early 
ferry-boat, w r e walked for hours in the beautiful en- 
virons of Hoboken or Staten Island, will always 
remain as a pleasant background to the affectionate 
friendship which still continues. 

Thus reinforced, an advanced step was made in 
1857 by the renting of a house, No. 64 Bleecker Street, 
which we fitted up for a hospital where both patients 
and young assistant physicians could be received. This 
institution, under the name of " The New York 
Infirmary for Women and Children," was formally 
opened in the May of this year by a public meeting, in 
which the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Dr. Elder of 
Philadelphia, and the Rev. Dr. Tyng, jun., warmly 
supported the movement. In this institution Dr. 
Zackrzewska accepted the post of resident physician, 
Dr. Emily becoming chiefly responsible for the surgical 

This first attempt to establish a hospital conducted 
entirely by women excited much opposition. At that 
date, although college instruction was being given to 
women students in some places, no hospital was any- 
where available either for practical instruction or the 

Establishment of a Hospital 169 

exercise of the woman-physician's skill. To supply the 
need had become a matter of urgent importance. Our 
difficulties are thus noted in the Annual Report for 
1864 :— 

" But to this step (the establishment of a hospital) 
a host of objections were raised by those whom the 
early friends of the institution attempted to interest 
in their effort. They were told that no one would let 
a house for the purpose, that female doctors would be 
looked upon with so much suspicion that the police 
would interfere ; that if deaths occurred their death 
certificates would not be recognised ; that they would 
be resorted to by classes and persons whom it would be 
an insult to be called upon to deal with ; that without 
men as resident physicians they would not be able to 
control the patients ; that if any accident occurred, 
not only the medical profession but the public would 
blame the trustees for supporting such an undertaking ; 
and, finally, that they would never be able to collect 
money enough for so unpopular an effort." 

Through a cloud of discouragement and distrust 
the little institution steadily worked its way, its few 
friends holding to it the more firmly for the diffi- 
culties it experienced. The practice of the infirmary, 
both medical and surgical, was conducted entirely by 
women ; but a board of consulting physicians, men 
of high standing in the profession, gave it the sanction 
of their names. Dr. Valentine Mott, Dr. John Watson, 
Drs. Willard Parker, R. S. Kissam, Isaac E. Taylor, 
and George P. Camman were the earliest medical 
friends of the infirmary. 

The pecuniary support of this institution, in addition 
to the medical responsibility involved in its conduct, 
was no small burden. For many years its annual 
income rested mainly on our exertions. A bazaar was 
held in its behalf for seven years in succession ; lectures, 
concerts, and every other available means of collecting 
funds were resorted to. 

170 Pioneer Work 

At one time Fanny Kemble was giving a series of 
Shakespearean readings in New York, and often ren- 
dered generous help to benevolent institutions by the 
use of her great talent. We hoped that she might aid 
our struggling infirmary by giving a public reading in 
its behalf. So on one occasion I called with our fellow- 
worker Dr. Zackrzewska at the hotel where she was 
staying to prefer our request. She received us courte- 
ously, listened with kindness to an explanation of the 
object of our visit and of the needs of the infirmary ; 
but when she heard that the physicians of the institu- 
tion were women she sprang up to her full height, 
turned her flashing eyes upon us, and with the deepest 
tragic tones of her magnificent voice exclaimed : 
" Trust a woman — as a doctor ! — NEVER ! " 

The thunder-clap which thus smote us in the New 
York hotel brought back amusingly to my mind the 
scene at Brighton, when the parlour door suddenly 
opened, and a brilliant figure in stage costume ad- 
vanced to the gentle, refined Lady Byron with an 
impassioned quotation from Julius Ccesar. The con- 
trast between two women's natures was so remark- 
able ! 

The necessity, however, of a separate hospital for 
the general training of women students had by this 
time been recognised. Experience both at the New 
York Hospital and at the large Bellevue Hospital, 
where classes of imperfectly trained women had failed 
to maintain their ground, proved that a special woman's 
centre was needed, not only as affording them practical 
instruction, but for the purpose of testing the capacity 
and tact of the students themselves, before admitting 
them to walk the general hospitals where male students 
were admitted. The New York Infirmary for Women 
therefore gradually enlisted the active help of en- 
lightened men and women. 

We were much encouraged by the kindly contribu- 
tions of articles for our annual bazaars from English 

Encouragement from Europe 171 

friends ; and a generous-hearted French lady, Madame 
Trelat, who felt much interest in the new medical 
movement, sent a donation to the funds of the hospital. 
The continued interest of English friends is shown by 
our correspondence. 

To Lady Noel Byron 

New York : December 27, 1S57. 

My dear Friend, — Your kind interest in our hospital 
cheers me. Very few persons understand the soul of this 
work, or the absolute necessity which lies upon us to live 
out the ideal life to the utmost of our power. My work is 
undoubtedly for the few. It is labour in the inter-linkings 
of humanity, and is necessarily difficult of appreciation by 
the mass of people, and is very slow in gaining their esteem. 
It has been a most toilsome lesson to translate my thought 
into the common language of life. I labour at this transla- 
tion perpetually, and still remain too often incompre- 
hensible. I will not degrade the central thought of this 
work, but I seek in every way to accommodate it wisely to 
the practical common-sense feeling of the people. 

My sister is a noble helper, and we shall stand, I trust, 
shoulder to shoulder through many years of active service. 
I shall have the pleasure of soon forwarding to you a report 
of our last year's proceedings ; this will give the simple 
facts of our hospital life. 

Allow me to remain, with very true affection, 

Your friend, 

Elizabeth Blackwell. 

79 East Fifteenth Street. 



The ten years during which this pioneer medical work 
had been steadily carried on had thus firmly established 
the new departure as a useful innovation in the United 
States. The reform was at that time steadily growing, 
not only in New York, but also in Philadelphia and 
Boston, under the guidance of able bodies of women. 
We were now desirous of learning what openings 
existed in England for the entrance of women into the 
medical profession. We knew that much interest had 
been felt there in the progress of the American work, 
and we had been urged by friends in Europe to give 
some account of it. 

It was determined, therefore, in August 1858 that I 
should again revisit my native land and urge the im- 
portance of this medical work. Soon after my arrival 
in Europe I took the occasion of a visit made to a sister 
in Paris to prepare carefully a series of three addresses 
to be delivered in England, showing what was being 
done in medicine by women in the United States, and 
the reasons for that work. The first of these addresses 
was on the value of physiological knowledge to women, 
the second on the value of medical knowledge, and the 
third on the practical aspect of the work as established 
in America and its adaptability to England. Whilst 
engaged in the preparation of the lectures I entered 
into relations with the large-hearted Countess de 
Noailles, whose devotion to sanitary reform and 
generous support of benevolent enterprises were 
equally remarkable. This lady was very desirous that 
a country sanatorium for women should be established 


An Interview in Paris 173 

in England or France, being firmly convinced that 
hygienic conditions in their fullest application were 
the chief necessity in the successful treatment of 
special diseases. This lady wrote to an old friend in 
Paris : "I wish to direct all my efforts to this object. 
Let me know as soon as possible what it would cost to 
establish a small hospital for women and children 
either in France or England, under Miss Blackwell's 
direction." She also requested one of her noble 
French relatives to make my acquaintance. The 
interview is thus described in a letter to Dr. Emily in 
New York. 

Paris: 1858. 

Yesterday I saw Madame by appointment at her 

own house. A. says she is a daughter of the Prince de P. ; 
to me she seemed a stout, black-eyed Frenchwoman of 
forty-five, cordial in manner, speaking English well, and 
knowing as much of England and Anglo-Saxon nature as a 
Frenchwoman ever can know. We conversed energetically 
for two hours. She is seriously interested in the entrance 
of women into the medical profession, a wish founded in 
her case on the moral degradation which she has observed 
amongst her own acquaintance from the practice of being 
treated by men in female complaints. The facts which 
most struck her in all I told her was your amputating a 
breast ; in this she actually triumphed. Her face became 
radiant with the intense satisfaction of the thing, for it 
proved to her by a fact what she wanted to believe, but 
could only accept intellectually from all my reasons — viz. 
the necessity of letting the midwife drop, and striking 
unflinchingly for the highest position. This one fact, worth 
to this sort of nature a host of arguments, gave her real 
faith in the physician. She opened freely her objections, 
or rather difficulties, and I met them one after another ; 
and this difference I observed in the encounter with the 
cultivated European nature — when I gave her a reason she 
understood it and accepted it ; it did not go in at one ear 
and out at the other as with more frivolous people ; there 
is some soil or substance you can plant in in this stouter 
nature. As years ago with Lady Byron, so with this lady, 
it was of some use talking to her. She propounded, of 

174 Pioneer Work 

course, foolish as well as serious ideas ; thus she thought 
that women physicians should never marry ; she also 
would be shocked to see me with a garland on my head 
dancing in a ball-room, and she thought they should be 
devoted, like the sisters of charity, &c. I combated her idea 
of abnegation for a while, and put in a feeler to see if she 
could take in a higher notion ; but finding it was impossible, 
I at once ceased the attempt, and allowed her to hold to her 
own highest idea, which I could see was tinged by her 
French nature. Of course it wearied me a little, and I 
wanted after a while to expand my lungs and breathe 
freely ; but I certainly made a strong impression upon 
her. She thanked me and shook my hand again and again 
at parting, and said that she should not think of letting 
this be our last interview, and she should write to Madame 
de Noailles the very next day. She had asked me previously 
if I was resolved in any case to go back to America, and I 
had told her " No," but described at the same time the 
excellent beginning we had made there. I feel convinced 
that I shall have some proposition in relation to my (or 
rather our) establishment in London. What, then, ought 
we to say should such an offer arise ? I will accept nothing 
that is not offered to us both, on that I am quite determined ; 
we cannot separate in practice. 

Paris: November 1858. 
Preparing my lectures is a troublesome business. My 
first one would not do ; it was so much more adapted to 
an American than an English audience. I wanted also 
quantities of facts that I did not know how to get. But I 
have now re-written twenty-one pages. I have written it 
with pleasure, though very slowly, and I am really sur- 
prised to find how very slowly I write. I can only write 
when I feel fresh in the morning ; sometimes only a page, 
sometimes none. I will not force it when I don't feel fresh, 
but I shall take whatever time is necessary to do the work 
well, for it is really important. 

It was during this visit that I had the privilege of 
becoming personally acquainted with Dr. Trelat, the 
head of La Salpetriere, and his admirable wife, who 
remained steadfast friends through life. I visited 

Correspondence 175 

them at La Salpetriere — that large asylum for infirm 
women, over which Dr. Trelat presided with truly 
paternal care. La Salpetriere was not then a great 
school of experimentation, but a benevolent refuge, 
where the well-being and kindly protection of its 
inmates formed the primary object of the director. 
The following letters are descriptive of this time. 

To Lady Byron 

Paris : December 30, 1858. 
160 Rue St. Dominique. 

My dear and venerated Friend, — I received your 
letter yesterday. The mere chance of being in any way 
useful to the valuable friend you refer to is reason sufficient 
for a short return at once to England, so I have made my 
arrangements to reach London on Monday evening, 
January 3. 

I have heard with great pleasure of an invitation to 
lecture in London, which I will acknowledge when I 
receive it. I shall be glad of an opportunity of laying very 
important considerations before my fellow countrywomen, 
but I cannot lecture just at present. I find that I must 
first go to Italy, for reasons which I will explain when we 
meet ; therefore it is too soon to engage rooms at present, 
for which kind offer I sincerely thank you. 

My chief object in making this hurried visit of a few days 
is to see Miss Nightingale and a few valued friends, amongst 
whom I hope I may reckon yourself. I shall therefore 
remain quietly at my cousin's, No. 73 Gloucester Terrace, 
Hyde Park, not attempting to enter into society. 

To Dr. Emily Blackwell 

London : February 1S59. 
I have just returned from an interview with Miss 
Nightingale at Malvern in relation to a school for nurses 
which she wishes to establish ; and I start to-morrow for 
France en route for Mentone. My old friend's health is 
failing from the pressure of mental labour. I cannot go 
into the details of her last five years now, but the labour 
has been and is immense. I think I have never known 
a woman labour as she has done. It is a most remarkable 

\j6 Pioneer Work 

experience ; she indeed deserves the name of a worker. 
Of course we conversed very earnestly about the nursing 
plan in which she wished to interest me. She says that for 
six months she shall be utterly unable to give any thought 
to the fund work, and wants me meanwhile to observe 
English life very carefully, and make up my mind as to 
whether I can give up America, which she thinks a very 
serious matter. Unfortunately she does not think private 
practice possible in connection with her plan. If so, it 
would be impossible for us to help her. She thinks her own 
health will never permit her to carry out her plan herself, 
and I much fear she is right in this belief. 

After a short visit to the Riviera, to confer with the 
Countess de Noailles about her proposed sanatorium 
for women, I returned to London. There my warm 
friends the Misses Leigh Smith, supported by their 
generous-hearted father, and Miss Bessie Rayner 
Parkes, interested themselves actively in preparing for 
the first delivery of my lectures. The Marylebone Hall 
was secured. Our young friends brought up primroses 
and other lovely flowers and green wreaths from 
Hastings to ornament the reading-desk, and warmly 
supported me by their ardent sympathy. On March 2, 
1859, the first lecture w r as given to a very intelligent 
and appreciative audience, whose interest was warmly 
enlisted. I well remember the tears rolling down the 
benevolent face of Miss Anna Goldsmid, who sat 
immediately in front of me. But the most important 
listener was the bright, intelligent young lady whose 
interest in the study of medicine was then aroused — 
Miss Elizabeth Garrett — who became the pioneer of 
the medical movement in England, and who, as Mrs. 
Garrett Anderson, lives to see the great success of her 
difficult and brave work. 

These addresses were afterwards given in Manchester, 
Birmingham, and Liverpool ; Mr. Bracebridge kindly 
making arrangements for them in Birmingham and the 
Rev. W. H. Channing in Liverpool. 

The interest thus excited in London led to some 

Proposed Institution 177 

effort being made to commence in England similar 
work to that being done in America. A meeting of 
ladies was held at the St. John's Wood residence 
of Mrs. Peter Taylor, over which Mr. William Shaen 
presided. A committee was formed to consider the 
subject, and encouraged by the offer of help made by 
the Countess de Noailles, a circular was prepared, 
stating the object to be accomplished and inviting 
support. This circular, which was revised by Dr. 
Mayo, Lady Byron, Mr. Shaen, and the Hon. Russell 
Gurney, was gradually signed by a large number of 
influential ladies. 


Proposed Hospital for the Treatment of the 
Special Diseases of Women 

The Lectures recently delivered by Doctor Elizabeth Black- 
well at the Marylebone Literary Institution have produced 
in the minds of the ladies who heard them a strong con- 
viction of the necessity for a more general diffusion of 
hygienic knowledge among women ; and have led to a 
proposition to found a hospital for a class of diseases, the 
ordinary treatment of which too frequently involves much 
avoidable moral suffering, to be placed under the direction 
of competent women physicians, in connection with a Board 
of consulting physicians and surgeons. 

A lady, impressed with the want of such an institution, 
and convinced of the value of hygienic knowledge in the 
treatment and prevention of female diseases, has already 
promised 1000/. towards the hospital, and offers 5000/. 
more for the endowment of a Sanitary Professorship in 
connection with it, provided a sufficient sum be raised by 
donation to place the institution on a permanent basis. 

In order to secure the advantages of this offer, it is pro- 
posed to raise and invest an additional sum of not less than 
10,000/. for the purpose of securing and furnishing a suit- 
able house, and forming the nucleus of a permanent hospital 
endowment ; and also to collect an annual subscription list 
of not less than 500/., to assist in defraying the current 
expenses of the hospital. 


lyS Pioneer Work 

The ladies whose names are appended to this statement 
have signified their cordial concurrence in the proposal to 
establish such an institution, and their desire to aid it in 
any way that may be within their power. 

Contributions will be received by Messrs. Williams, 
Deacon & Co., Bankers, 20 Birchin Lane, E.C. Any com- 
munications may be addressed to Miss Braysher, Hon. 
Secretary, 73 Gloucester Terrace, Hyde Park, W. 

Messrs. Bracebridge, the Hon. Russell Gurney, 
Q.C., and the Hon. W. Cowper accepted the posts of 
trustees, and sixty-six names of well-known ladies 
were gradually added to the circular. 

To Dr. Emily Blackwell, New York 

London : April 15, 1S59. 

The more I see of work in England, the more I like it. 

From the Queen downwards I see signs of favour. On all 

hands we make converts, and those who are indoctrinated 

make converts. The whole way in which the cause is 

regarded by laity and doctors is most respectful. I believe 

we could get into general practice. We could shape the 

whole matter in the right way, for people welcome true 

ideas. There is an immense charm in this fresh field, where 

solid English heads receive the highest view of truth, where 

generosity and largeness of idea meet you at every turn. I 

like working and living in England, and there is no limit to 

what we might accomplish here. But, alas ! there is the 

same old difficulty. We ought to have an independent 

300/. per annum between us, and for want of that it is all 

vitiated. I see the charm of work here as clearly as I did on 

my arrival nine months ago, and feel immeasurably more 

hopeful about the possibilities of English work, but I 

realise more than ever the difficulty of working here upon 

nothing. I am writing to you upon our last prospectus, 

one which is to be widely circulated when we are satisfied 

with the names appended. It has been carefully revised, 

and it is contemplated to distribute many thousands of 

them. But we have been six weeks shaping the prospectus 

and collecting some names, and I know that it will take 

many weeks more to secure the names it is hoped to obtain. 

In fact, it is a long work of initiation that has to be carried 

Correspondence 170, 

on, which would be very thorough, excellently well done, 
but which I cannot wait to do. 

It is very unfortunate that the probable dissolution of 
Parliament and consequent ferment of re-elections will 
interfere with our proceedings ; all lecturing is out of the 
question during the excitement of elections. 

I shall probably join A. in the Isle of Wight for a week or 
two. I do want to see that dear little island again, and I 
shall there find leisure to revise my little book for an English 

I am going to dine with the Gurneys to-night, to meet 
the Rev. Mr. Maurice, who is so highly regarded by a large 
party, and whom I am to convert ! It will be a clerical 
party to-night, and to-morrow I am engaged to meet a few 
medical gentlemen at Mr. Hawes's ! 

The country looks lovely, and as usual I am longing for 
it, and will break away at Easter for a little holiday. How 
hard you must be working ! You must have a holiday when 
I come back. 

Easter was spent in the Isle of Wight revising the 
little work on The Laws of Life, an English edition of 
which was brought out by Sampson Low & Co. 

During this time the plan of the proposed hospital 
was being circulated in London. 

It was during this visit to England that the im- 
portant step was taken of placing a woman's name on 
the authorised Medical Register of the United Kingdom. 
Influential friends were desirous of keeping me in 
England. They presented the various testimonials of 
English and Continental study given by distinguished 
physicians and credentials of American practice to the 
Medical Council. On this council, of which Sir Ben- 
jamin Brodie was president, were old friends of the 
St. Bartholomew's days. The subject was very care- 
fully considered, and after mature deliberation this 
just and important concession to qualified women was 
authorised. I had the satisfaction of being enrolled as 
a recognised physician of my native land in the Medical 
Register of January 1, 1859. 

l8o Pioneer Work 

To Dr. Emily Blackwell, New York 

May 13, 1859. 
My letter this week must be rather short, for I am over- 
whelmed with all sorts of engagements previous to leaving 
for Birmingham, where I give my first provincial lecture 
next Monday. I have communicated to our little com- 
mittee Madame de Noailles's insistence upon a country site 
for the hospital, and also the necessity that exists for not 
abandoning our work in New York until the institutions 
there are self-supporting. They are very much disappointed 
by the country condition attached to the hospital ; but 
were I settled in England and working there, it would not 
discourage them. But all our friends seem to think that as 
the New York Infirmary is the best argument that can be 
used for English work, its downfall would be an irreparable 
misfortune, and they are willing, under the circumstances, 
to let me go. Indeed, I find it necessary to come to a 
decision myself, and after carefully weighing everything 
I have made up my mind to return, at any rate for some 
time. I can secure any amount of personal interest from 
various quarters ; but as the prospect of speedily realising 
an institution where we could both work is put farther off, 
I do not wish to stay under the circumstances. . . . 

Edgbaston : May 17, 1859. 
A letter just received from the Countess de Noailles urges 
me to begin a sanatorium in the country near New York. 
She says : "As the central hospital already exists in New 
York, if you will allow me to help in beginning a sanatorium 
in country air I should be able to realise my idea at once. 
I think you might obtain some house or farmhouse for the 
purpose in the course of the autumn or spring. The im- 
portance of convalescent hospitals in the country is 
beginning to be recognised in England ; let women be the 
first to set the example of one in America. I believe that 
in women's complaints they are of more importance than 
in any other, and that in seven cases out of ten the air alone 
would effect the cure." Now I think this is extremely 
rational and liberal, and we must discuss together how we 
can do it for her, 

Correspondence 181 

To Lady Byron 

73 Gloucester Terrace, Hyde Park: June 10, 1859. 

It grieves me much to know of these constantly recurring 
illnesses, crippling so valuable a life. What a satire it is 
to call our science " The Art of Healing " ! 

My provincial trip has been very interesting to me, as 
bringing me into contact with a great number of people in 
different classes of society, showing me everywhere a great 
want and an eager reception of what I have to give. From 
Leeds, Nottingham, and Edinburgh came earnest invita- 
tions to lecture. A message sent to my sister from Edin- 
burgh stated a total revolution in womanly sentiment, and 
that her reception would now be as hearty as it was formerly 
hostile. A student from Cambridge told me the young men 
were warmly in our favour. 

Mothers beg me for instruction in health. Young ladies 
listen eagerly to the idea of work. Three desired to become 
medical students. Wise old physicians ask me to " break 
up " certain fashionable London practices by substituting 
our own practice. Thus from many different points of view 
a deep interest awakens, but everywhere the London 
experience was repeated — viz. conversion ; women thinking 
themselves hostile, but receiving the idea when they knew 
what it really meant. But the sympathy is necessarily 
intellectual only — practical reception and familiarity with 
the new position of women must necessarily be of slow 
growth. It must be, in fact, a life work. The children of 
the present generation will grow up accustomed to women 
doctors, respecting and trusting them, but the large 
majority of the adults will only hold a half-faith, and this 
will be a gradual growth. I am convinced that there would 
not be a rapidly brilliant success in England, such as some 
enthusiastic friends dream of. 

There is a call for the work, an admirable field, but the 
work itself is a very slow one, the steady conquest of in- 
numerable difficulties — a creation, in fact. The hospital 
scheme I think premature. 

I had promised to bring it forward, and have done so, 
but I believe, to be successful, it must spring, as in America, 
out of private practice. I have no faith in its rapid success. 

1 82 Pioneer Work 

My own opinions and plans, then, may be briclly 
summed up. 

There is a valuable and much-needed work to be done in 
England. Slow, uphill work, not remunerative (my tour 
was an expense to me) ; a repetition, to a great extent, of 
our last seven years' work. It would need us both to do it 
well ; and so greatly does England want just our experi- 
ence that, were it possible, I should counsel the transference 
of our work to this side of the water. But this we cannot 
do, and I shall therefore endeavour to prepare others for 
English work by receiving and educating students in 
America. In America, as here, it is a life work. I shall go 
back to create the institutions of which we have planted 
only the little germ. In ten years' time we may hope for 
permanent institutions there, worthy of their object, but 
we can during that time efficiently aid earnest young 
Englishwomen for their work here. Mrs. Bracebridge, who 
is much interested in this plan, is coming to London in 
Trinity Week for the special purpose of becoming ac- 
quainted with Mrs. Gurney and Mrs. Battin. They will 
form a committee for appointing and testing students. 
There will be a good deal of work connected with these 
arrangements, but directly it is completed I leave, as I am 
much wanted across the water. 

I shall see you, my dear friend, before I leave (about 
June 25). I shall be sad to say good-bye, but I know that 
distance will not necessarily part us. 

73 Gloucester Terrace, London : June 17, 1859. 
Dear E., — I have only one piece of information to send, 
but that is of the highest importance — viz. that the Medical 
Council has registered me as physician ! I have just learned 
the news from my lawyer, Mr. Shaen, who made the applica- 
tion, and at once forwarded the necessary fees, that I may 
be published in the first register. This will be of immeasur- 
able value to the future of medical women in England. . . . 

73 Gloucester Terrace : July 7. 
I am busy making inquiries about the plates, &c, I want 
to take over to New York. I cannot go to the expense of a 
journey to Paris, but I have the catalogue of Auzoux, who 
stands unrivalled in the manufacture of papier-mdclic 
models. I must make a selection and let the pieces be 

Return to New York 183 

boxed up in Paris, and sent direct by sailing vessel. 
Vassourie is the modeller in wax ; his models are the most 
exquisite things I have ever seen, but horribly dear. The 
microscope I shall buy in England. I have settled to sail 
by the " Persia " on the 23rd, but the difficulty of deciding 
on our future course does not lessen. I am convinced that 
England is the place where we should work to best ad- 
vantage. Lady Byron, Mrs. Bracebridge, the Peter Taylors, 
Miss Goldsmid — each the centre of a large and very different 
set of people — are each of them sure that we should have a 
large and valuable practice. Many doctors think the same. 
I cannot but think that the next ten years might be better 
spent in England than America. Our work is needed, and 
I know not who else can do it ; indeed, we seem peculiarly 
suited to do this work in England. Well, we will soon 
discuss these matters together, and I am managing as well 
as I can in shaping things here, and gathering information 
under the uncertainty. 

Returning to New York in August 1859, I found the 
permanent fund which had been commenced for the 
purchase of a hospital site prospering. The steady 
friends of the movement — Stacy B. Collins, Robert 
Haydock, Merritt Trimble, and Samuel Willets, formed 
the nucleus of an earnest band of supporters, both men 
and women. The spacious house, 126 Second Avenue, 
was purchased and adapted to the use of hospital and 
dispensary, with accommodation for several students. 

Our able fellow 7 -worker, Dr. Zackrzewska, having 
left us to superintend the new hospital in Boston, we 
carried on the rapidly growing work of the infirmary 
with the aid of intelligent graduates from Phila- 
delphia, who came to us for practical instruction in 

In addition to the usual departments of hospital and 
dispensary practice, which included the visiting of 
poor patients at their own homes, we established a 
sanitary visitor. This post was filled by one of our 
assistant physicians, whose special duty it was to give 
simple, practical instruction to poor mothers on the 

184 Pioneer Work 

management of infants and the preservation of the 
health of their families. An intelligent young coloured 
physician, Dr. Cole, who was one of our resident 
assistants, carried on this work with tact and care. 
Experience of its results serve to show that the 
establishment of such a department would be a valu- 
able addition to every hospital. 

Correspondence with English friends continued, and 
we were deeply interested by the following letters from 
Miss Elizabeth Garrett, who was bravely commencing 
the necessary pioneer work in England : — 

Aldeburgh, Suffolk : January 2, 1861. 
I feel anxious to tell you how very much I enjoy the work 
and study, as this is to a great extent unexpected to me. 
As I had not any very strong interest in the subjects, and 
was led to choose the profession more from a strong con- 
viction of its fitness for women than from any absorbing 
personal bias, I was prepared to find the first year's pre- 
paration work tedious and wearing. That this has not been 
the case is, I believe, mainly due to the fact of my having 
access to the hospital practice, which acts as a continual aid 
and stimulus to study. For three months I attended as a 
probationary nurse, learning what I could both from the 
doctors and nurses, and reading in the spare moments. It 
was, however, very difficult to make way in this desultory 
manner. The temptation to discursiveness and want of 
system met me continually, and at last I determined to 
begin the study of anatomy, chemistry, and materia 
medica, working steadily at these and enduring the ignor- 
ance of other branches which could not be studied rightly 
till a foundation of this kind had been laid. In pursuance 
of this plan, when the three months' nursing had expired 
I had an interview with the treasurer of the hospital, and 
asked permission to visit the wards and go round with the 
house doctors. This Mr. De Morgan agreed to, and also 
suggested that Mr. Plaskitt, the apothecary, should be 
asked to take me as a pupil in the dispensary, which I 
found him very willing to do. Mr. De Morgan, however, 
will hold out no hope of my being admitted as a regular 
student, and the general feeling seems to be that each 

Correspondence 185 

doctor is willing to help me privately and singly, but they 
are afraid to countenance the movement by helping me in 
their collective capacity. This will, however, come in time, 
I trust, and in the meantime it is a great thing to meet with 
so much individual courtesy and help. When I left the 
special nursing work, Dr. Willis, the house physician, 
offered to superintend my reading in private lessons at my 
own house, which was precisely the kind of help I was most 
glad to accept. I continue to go to the hospital early, and 
go round the female medical wards alone, making notes of 
all difficulties and writing descriptions of heart and chest 
sounds and diagnosing as well as I can. This occupies the 
time till Dr. Willis comes, when I go round again and 
consult him upon all doubtful points, and learn a great 
deal by observing his method and principles. After this 
I go into the dispensary for two or three hours and learn 
the Pharmacopoeia practically, and spend the afternoon in 
study in a room which the authorities have kindly lent me 
in the hospital. I am to continue on my present footing 
till April, but beyond that time I have no very clear plans. 
I wish to get all the education that is possible in London, 
even if it must be of a private or irregular kind. Perhaps 
it would be best to call upon Dr. Southwood Smith, Dr. 
Mayo, and Dr. Jenner, and hear if they can help me into 
any other medical school. 

I should be very glad to know your opinion upon the plan 
of applying for admittance as a student at the Middlesex 
for the next winter session, and also what you would 
advise in the event of this being refused. 

22 Manchester Square : May 8, 1S62. 
I have delayed writing, hoping that I might have at last 
some good news of success to give you ; now, as this seems 
farther off than I had hoped it would be, I will delay no 
longer. I think Mrs. Russell Gurney wrote you that I was 
spending all my time just now in preparing for the matricu- 
lation examination of the University of London. I decided 
to make this the first step, in consequence of the experience 
last summer brought us. We then made three very careful 
and vigorous efforts to gain the admission of women into a 
medical school. Those we tried were the Middlesex, the 
Westminster, and the London Hospitals ; and early in this 

1 86 Pioneer Work 

year we attempted the Grosvenor Street School. I need 
not tell you we were in each case unsuccessful, though in 
one or two cases the adverse decision was gained by a very 
small majority of votes. In each case those gentlemen who 
opposed always urged as one ground for their doing so, that 
as the examining bodies were not prepared to admit women 
to their examinations, the school could not educate a 
woman to be an illegal practitioner, and that by doing so 
they would incur the certain risk of injuring the school in 
the eyes of the public without really aiding women. The 
medical papers also took up the same line. The Lancet was 
particularly anxious to point out that we were beginning 
at the wrong end, and that the first thing we should do was 
to settle the question of examination. I also had private 
information from several of the lecturers at the Middlesex 
that if I could matriculate at the London University and 
enter as a medical student for its examinations, my friends 
at their school would do all they could to get the adverse 
decision there altered. I therefore applied to the Apothe- 
caries' Hall and to the College of Surgeons, asking the latter 
body if they would allow me to compete for the special 
diploma for midwifery which they now give. This was 
refused, with an intimation that the College would not in 
any way countenance the introduction of ladies into the 
medical profession. The application to the Hall was more 
fortunate ; the question turned on a legal technicality, and 
was referred to counsel and finally decided in my favour. I 
must, of course, conform to all the ordinary regulations, 
but when I have done so I can obtain the licence to practise 
granted by that body. One of the regulations I have met 
without difficulty — viz. being apprenticed to a medical man 
for five years before the final examination. I had inden- 
tures made out as soon as I knew the decision. The second 
one (spending three years in a medical school in the United 
Kingdom) is more difficult : it is something to be able to 
say when applying for admission into a school that the Hall 
would examine me and give me its licence. Still, as the 
licence is not all that I want, I thought it better to make an 
effort at some university for the M.D. For many reasons it 
seems desirable to make the attempt at the London 
University. The medical examinations there are exceed- 
ingly good ; the constitution of the body is of the most 

Correspondence 187 

liberal description, and no residence is required norfany 
teaching given, so that the students would not be brought 
into any kind of contact till they met in the examination- 
room. Students of all kinds (whatever degree they may 
ultimately desire to take) are required to pass the matricu- 
lation examination in arts, and this includes the classics, 
natural philosophy, and mathematics, besides a modern 
language and the ordinary school subjects, history and 
geography, and is altogether an examination which would 
require a more liberal and careful education (in the case of 
girls) than is now generally given, even if the candidates 
never went in for the M.A. or B.A. degree. It was clear 
that the only chance of obtaining admission to the examina- 
tions generally lay in keeping the question on the widest, 
most general ground, advocating the claims of governesses 
and other women who required a good general examination, 
without introducing the question of medical degrees or the 
admission of women to any new professions. The university 
is about to have a new charter, and we therefore thought 
that this was the time to raise the question by praying the 
Senate to obtain the insertion of a clause expressly extend- 
ing to women the benefits of their examinations. Before 
doing this we had submitted the present charter to the 
Attorney-General, and had had his opinion upon the power 
of the Senate to admit women upon its authority, as it is 
now drawn up. He thought they had no power to do so, 
and therefore there was no alternative but to ask for a new 
clause. In order to get some expression of the general 
feeling on the question, circulars similar to the one I send 
you were extensively distributed. More than 1500 were 
sent out, and as a result we obtained a very respectable 
number of names as allies. Some of their letters were so 
cordial that we had extracts printed and sent to the 
members of the Senate with the list of names. The Vice- 
Chancellor and Mr. Grote were throughout most kindly 
ready to help us, and to give the proposal the full weight 
of their influence. The discussion at the Senate came 011 
yesterday, and was a most lengthened and animated one ; 
of twenty-one members present, ten were for, ten against, 
and one neutral. The Chancellor (Lord Granville) then 
had the casting-vote, and gave it against us. 

I am exceedingly sorry, as this would have been fraught 

188 Pioneer Work 

with such great benefit to many different classes of women, 
and would, I think, have been just the encouragement 
needed by girls when they leave school to keep them inter- 
ested in their studies and out of the merely fashionable or 
domestic life they are so liable to fall into. It would also 
have been a great encouragement to parents, and would 
have made them more willing to let their daughters have 
time and opportunity for culture after they leave the 
schoolroom. These advantages would have been widely 
felt, and for professional women, whether governesses or 
physicians, the opportunity of being able to take a degree 
would have been invaluable. However, it is not to be had 
now ; perhaps, when they are having another charter eight 
or ten years hence, we may try again and succeed. I do 
not imagine there is much chance of being able to do more 
at any other university in the United Kingdom than we can 
do here, so that I fear the possibility of ever obtaining an 
English degree as M.D. is a very remote one. 

My notion now is to try to get into a school and obtain 
the Apothecaries' Hall licence. If this should prove 
possible, it would occupy between three and four years 
from next October. I should then wish to come to America 
and obtain the M.D. there, and then spend a year in Paris. 
I should be glad to know if you think I ought to make a 
point of getting the best M.D. diploma I can, either in 
America or on the Continent, if it should prove impossible 
to obtain one here, and if I can get the Apothecaries' 
licence. My own feeling is in favour of having the M.D. ; 
though it should be a foreign one, I believe it would com- 
mand more respect than the licence from the Hall would 
alone. I am fortunately able to choose to do whatever is 
most advisable, as I need not be in a hurry to enter upon 
the profession from pecuniary or any other motives, and I 
think I cannot aid the cause more soundly than by trying 
to do everything in the most thorough and exact way. It 
would be well, I think, to spend a good deal of time and 
strength on getting the very best diploma or certificate 
open to women. Should it prove to be quite impossible to 
get into a school, the licence from the Hall would not be 
within my reach. I must, in this case, rely entirely on 
foreign diplomas and on American schools. I shall not be 
too ready to admit this necessity, as I fear the advantage 

National Aid Association 189 

to the cause would be greatly diminished by the fact of my 
being educated in America. 

I should be very glad to spend a year with you in the 
infirmary after having studied in a school here, but I 
should be very sorry to give up my English friends and 
interests for the whole period of study, if it can by any 
means be avoided. Still, if it cannot, I am ready to go on 
with the work. The time spent in study has been most 
pleasant, and I am more than ever convinced both that this 
special work is one which a woman may have a divine right 
to engage in, and that every single woman's life is both 
happier and more useful if she has an absorbing interest 
and pursuit. I shall be very glad to have your advice, when 
you can kindly find time to write to me. Believe me, yours 

E. Garrett. 

In the full tide of our medical activity in New York, 
with a growing private practice and increasing hospital 
claims, the great catastrophe of civil war overwhelmed 
the country and dominated every other interest. 

The first shot at Fort Sumpter aroused the whole 
North, and the assassination of Lincoln enlisted the 
indignant energy of every Northern woman in the 
tremendous struggle. As the deadly contest pro- 
ceeded, and every town and village sent forth its 
volunteers to the fearful slaughter of civil war, the 
concentration of thought and action on the war 
dwarfed every other effort. 

The war was essentially a rebellion by a portion of the 
States for the maintenance of slavery. To us, nourished 
from childhood on the idea of human freedom and 
justice, the contest became of absorbing interest. 
Though our American friends often reproached us as 
Englishwomen for the action of the English Govern- 
ment, we threw ourselves energetically into the cause 
of freedom. 

On the outbreak of the war, an informal meeting of 
the lady managers was called at the infirmary to see 

190 Pioneer Work 

what could be done towards supplying the want of 
trained nurses so widely felt after the first battles. A 
notice of this meeting to be held at the infirmary 
having accidentally found its way into the New York 
Times, the parlours of the infirmary were crowded with 
ladies, to the surprise of the little group of managers. 

The Rev. Dr. Bellows and Dr. Elisha Harris being 
present, a formal meeting was organised. Whilst the 
great and urgent need of a supply of nurses was fully 
recognised, it was also felt that the movement would 
be too vast to be carried on by so small an institution. 
A letter was therefore drafted on this occasion, 
calling for a public meeting at the Cooper Institute, and 
a committee of the ladies present was appointed to 
obtain signatures to this call. 

The meeting at the Cooper Institute was crowded to 
overflowing. The National Sanitary Aid Association 
was then formed, in order to organise the energetic 
efforts to help that were being made all over the 

The Ladies' Sanitary x\id Association, of which we 
were active members, was also formed. This branch 
worked daily at the Cooper Institute during the whole 
of the war. It received and forwarded contributions 
of comforts for the soldiers, zealously sent from the 
country ; but its special work was the forwarding of 
nurses to the seat of war. All that could be done in the 
extreme urgency of the need was to sift out the most 
promising women from the multitudes that applied to 
be sent on as nurses, put them for a month in training 
at the great Bellevue Hospital of New York, which 
consented to receive relays of volunteers, provide 
them with a small outfit, and send them on for distribu- 
tion to Miss Dix, who was appointed superintendent of 
nurses at Washington. 

The career of one of these nurses, a German, deserves 
recording. We hesitated about receiving her, on 
account of her excitable disposition, but she insisted 

Establishment of Medical College 191 

on going. This feeble-looking woman soon drifted 
away from the Washington Depot to the active service 
of the front. After the battle of Gettysburg she spent 
two days and nights on the field of slaughter, wading 
with men's boots in the blood and mud, pulling out 
the still living bodies from the heaps of slain, binding 
up hideous wounds, giving a draught of water to one, 
placing a rough pillow under the head of another, in an 
enthusiasm of beneficence which triumphed equally 
over thought of self and horror of the hideous slaughter. 

A welcome relief to the great tension of life during 
those years was the visit of Mr. Herman Bicknell, 
F.R.C.S., who was travelling in America after the 
death of his wife. I remembered him as a fellow- 
student of the St. Bartholomew's days, who sat by me 
in the lecture-room ; and he recalled many interesting 
reminiscences of that eventful time. He was a man of 
great though eccentric talent, and a clever Persian 
scholar, having resided long in the East. His cordial 
friendship during many later years was much prized, 
and continued until his premature death. 

It was not until this great national rebellion was 
ended that the next step in the growth of the infirmary 
could be taken. 

The infirmary service of young assistant physicians, 
which had been hitherto supplied by students whose 
theoretical training had been obtained elsewhere, no 
longer met the New York needs. 

In 1865 the trustees of the infirmary, finding that the 
institution was established in public favour, applied to 
the Legislature for a charter conferring college powers 
upon it. 

They took this step by the strong advice of some of 
the leading physicians of New York interested in the 
infirmary, who urged that the medical education of 
women should not be allowed to pass into the hands of 
the irresponsible persons who were at that time seeking 
to establish a women's college in New York. We took 

192 Pioneer Work 

this step, however, with hesitation, for our own feeling 
was adverse to the formation of an entirely separate 
school for women. The first women physicians con- 
nected with the infirmary, having all been educated in 
the ordinary medical schools, felt very strongly the 
advantage of admission to the large organised system 
of public instruction already existing for men ; and 
also the benefits arising from association with men as 
instructors and companions in the early years of 
medical study. They renewed their efforts, therefore, 
to induce some good recognised New York school to 
admit, under suitable arrangements, a class of students 
guaranteed by the infirmary, rather than add another 
to the list of female colleges already existing. Finding, 
however, after consultation with the different New 
York schools, that such arrangements could not at 
present be made, the trustees followed the advice of 
their consulting staff, obtained a college charter, and 
opened a subscription for a college fund. 

The use of a spacious lecture-room in the New York 
University, on Washington Square, was temporarily 
obtained, until the house adjoining the infirmary could 
be leased and fitted for college purposes. 1 

A full course of college instruction was gradually 
organised, with the important improvement of estab- 
lishing the subject of hygiene as one of the principal 
professorial chairs, thus making it an equal as well as 
obligatory study. Another important improvement 
adopted was the establishment of an Examination 
Board, independent of the teaching staff, a plan not 
then customary in the United States. This Board was 
composed of some of the best-known members of the 
profession, and at the same time we changed the 
ordinary term of medical study from three years to 

1 The fine property on Stuyvesant Square, at the corner of East 
Fifteenth Street, has since been purchased, and is now the site of the 
New York Infirmary and College. 

Evil of Vaccination 193 

During the early years of the college I occupied the 
Chair of Hygiene, and had the pleasure of welcoming 
Miss Jex Blake, then visiting America, as a member of 
the first class. The Professor of Hygiene also super- 
intended the important work of the sanitary visitor at 
the homes of the poor. It has always seemed to me, 
during many years of active private practice, that the 
first and constant aim of the family physician should be 
to diffuse the sanitary knowledge which would enable 
parents to bring up healthy children. 

The most painful experience which I met with in 
practice was the death of one of my little patients from 
the effects of vaccination. This baby, though carefully 
tended and the lymph used guaranteed pure, died from 
the phagedenic ulceration set up by vaccination in a 
rather scrofulous constitution. To a hygienic physician 
thoroughly believing in the beneficence of Nature's 
laws, to have caused the death of a child by such 
means was a tremendous blow ! 

This serious experience awakened a growing dis- 
trust as to the wisdom of all medical methods which 
introduce any degree of morbid matter into the blood 
of the human system ; a distrust which no amount of 
temporary professional opinion or doubtful statistics 
has been able to remove. Although I have always 
continued to vaccinate when desired, I am strongly 
opposed to every form of inoculation of attenuated 
virus, as an unfortunate though well-meaning fallacy 
of medical prejudice. 



In 1869 the early pioneer work in America was ended. 
During the twenty years which followed the graduation 
of the first woman physician, the public recognition of 
the justice and advantage of such a measure had 
steadily grown. Throughout the Northern States the 
free and equal entrance of women into the profession 
of medicine was secured. In Boston, New York, and 
Philadelphia special medical schools for women were 
sanctioned by the Legislatures, and in some long- 
established colleges women were received as students 
in the ordinary classes. 

Our New York centre was well organised under able 
guidance, and I determined to return to England for a 
temporary though prolonged residence, both to renew 
physical strength, which had been severely tried, and 
to enlarge my experience of life, as well as to assist in 
the pioneer work so bravely commencing in London, 
and which extended later to Edinburgh. 

I soon found that social questions of vital impor- 
tance to human progress were taking root in the 
prepared soil of the older civilisation — questions 
which were of absorbing interest. During the follow- 
ing twenty years the responsibility of the Christian 
physician assumed to me an ever-deepening significance. 

After a refreshing tour in the lovely Lake District, 
arranged by my old friend Herman Bicknell, we 
attended the Social Science Congress held in Bristol in 
September of 1869. This was indeed a noteworthy 
experience. I was the guest with Miss Mary Carpenter 


Social Science Congress of 1869 J 95 

of her relations Mr. and Mrs. Thomas. One morning 
Miss Carpenter came into my room with her hands 
full of papers, saying, " These papers refer to a subject 
that you must take up. It is to be discussed at a 
sectional meeting to-day, from which all women are 
excluded ; but you, as a doctor, have a right to be 
present, and will be admitted, and you must attend." 

This formed my introduction to that tremendous 
campaign against the unequal standard of sexual 
morality known as the repeal of the " Contagious 
Diseases Acts," in which for the following seventeen 
years I was to take an active part, and which, from its 
extended bearings, moulded the whole of my future 

The study of the papers thus brought to my notice 
by Miss Carpenter was a revelation to me. Perhaps 
happily for me, during my past life and medical 
experiences I had never fully realised the wide bearing 
of this subject and the inevitable social degradation 
produced by a double standard of morality. My eyes 
were now suddenly opened, never to be closed again, 
to that direful purchase of women which is really the 
greatest obstacle to the progress of the race. 

Ignorant as I then was of the various aspects of the 
Contagious Diseases Act, I instantly perceived their 
injustice, and at once accepted the difficult mission 
Miss Carpenter laid upon me. 

It was hoped by some members of the congress that 
a resolution would be passed supporting the one-sided 
Contagious Diseases Acts legislation, against which 
a strong opposition was beginning to arise, and I 
resolved that the voice of one member of the congress, 
at any rate, should support the foundation of morality 
— viz. equal justice. I therefore attended the section, 
held at the Blind Asylum, sitting far back in that 
assemblage of men. 

I soon found, however, to my immense relief and 
gratitude, that the cause of justice was in able and 

196 Pioneer Work 

vigorous male hands, led by Professor Francis New- 
man ; so I gladly withdrew from a painful position 
in that sectional meeting, my advocacy not being 

I was privileged at this time to make the acquaint- 
ance of the Rev. Charles Kingsley and his generous- 
hearted wife. On our first meeting, at an evening 
party, Mr. Kingsley overwhelmed me by his enthusi- 
astic greeting. " You are one of my heroes," he said 
— a speech which I really could not then understand ; 
it seemed to stun me, in my quiet life. Later, as I 
learned to know his enthusiastic character and pro- 
found social insight, I knew his meaning. A sincere 
personal friendship was then begun. He supported 
me by constant and wise counsel until the time of his 
lamented death, which was indeed a severe personal 
loss. I was warmly welcomed to the Rectory of 
Eversley, and later to the Deanery of Chester. On 
the pleasant and historic pine hills of Bramshill, by 
the Eversley Parsonage, and on the ancient walls of 
Chester, with their noble outlook to the Welsh moun- 
tains, when visiting the Deanery, I enjoyed memorable 
walks with this generous-hearted man, when he threw 
open his delightful stores of natural history and 
strengthened me by his social wisdom. 

An amusing personal experience at the Bristol 
Congress was a " breakfast of all the religions," 
organised by my eccentric friend Herman Bicknell, 
and at which he insisted that I should help him 
preside. He said to me : " Holyoake is an Atheist, 
Cowell Stepney a Materialist, Banner] e and Chat- 
ter] e are of the Hindoo Brahma Somaj, you are a 
Christian, and I am a Catholic. It will be a most 
remarkable gathering, and the discussion of such 
varied opinions extremely interesting." I accepted 
the queer invitation. The breakfast was held in a 
large parlour of the hotel. We assembled at table, 
and one of the first things the very deaf gentleman on 

Settlement in London 197 

my right hand said to me was : " What an extra- 
ordinary, odd notion that of a soul is ! I wonder how 
it could have arisen." But the most interesting 
remark by far was made by Holyoake, who, returning 
from a secularist meeting of Bristol working men, was 
at once accosted by our host : " Now, Holyoake, pray 
let us have your famous demonstration of the non- 
existence of a God." Mr. Holyoake accepted the 
demand, and thought for some time in a profound 
silence ; then, with a puzzled face, he suddenly burst 
out : " Upon my word, Bicknell, I have really quite 
forgotten it ! " 

Mr. Kingsley once said to me, pointing to Holyoake : 
" That man, many years ago, I put into prison for 
blasphemy ; now I am begging him to come down and 
visit me at Eversley ! " Our breakfast of all the 
religions as an active contest was a failure. The 
hostile forces met together, but, instead of fighting, 
they fraternised ! 

It was during this visit to Bristol in 1869 that the 
curious experience, already referred to on page 3, 
occurred, when I visited the house where my early 
childhood was spent. 

On settling in London as a physician, I resided for 
some time with my valued friend Barbara Leigh Smith, 
then Madame Bodichon, at whose house in Blandford 
Square I met her wide and varied circle of literary and 
artistic friends and many leaders of social reform. 
Herbert Spencer, Dante Rossetti, Mrs. Lewes, the 
Peter Taylors, Mrs. Crawshay, Miss Goldsmid, Miss 
Cobbe, and Keshub Chunder Sen represent a few of 
the persons I was privileged to meet. 

At this time I had engaged medical consultation- 
rooms in an apparently respectable house in York 
Place, on the front door of which the house agent 
allowed me to place my name. I soon found, how- 
ever, that my doctor's sign was intended to conceal 
the dubious character of the occupier of the house, 

198 Pioneer Work 

and I had unconsciously walked into a trap ! But 
friends came to the rescue and compelled the can- 
celling of the lease with which I was entangled. I 
then established myself at No. 6 Burwood Place, where 
the commencement of a promising medical practice 
was soon formed. 

I eagerly entered upon the varied and intensely 
interesting social life now opened to me. 

My long-cherished conviction of the supreme im- 
portance of the medical profession as the great con- 
servator of health constantly deepened. 

In 1870, being invited to address the Working 
Women's College, I took as the subject of my dis- 
course " How to Keep a Household in Health." This 
lecture laid down rules of health for the guidance of 
poor women in the management of their households, 
and was welcomed by the audience. One person 
present, however, sent a slanderous account of this 
lecture to the Pall Mall Gazette, and I was overwhelmed 
by the receipt of anonymous letters, and letters from 
persons in all classes of society, requesting medical 
advice on the most important and delicate subjects — 
subjects which are only suitable for the confidential 
counsel of the physician's consulting-room, where alone 
advice adapted to each individual case can be judi- 
ciously given. I mentioned this experience of the news- 
paper attack and the subsequent correspondence to 
my friend Mr. Kingsley. He exclaimed : " Oh, you 
did not answer those letters, I trust ? ' I assured him 
that I had always refused to give the advice asked for 
by letter, and had invariably returned fees when 
enclosed. " Thank God for that ! " he exclaimed with 
an energy that amazed me ; and he then related to me 
a very painful experience of his own, saying : ' Let 
me warn you, never answer a newspaper attack. There 
are some newspapers that delight in getting hold of a 
scandal or whatever may make their paper sell, and 
are utterly unscrupulous as to the means by which such 

Lecture in St. George's Hall 199 

a purpose is accomplished. You have no chance against 
such corrupt speculation ; your only weapon is silence 
and your own established character." 

On February 19, 1871, under the auspices of the 
Sunday Lecture Society, I gave an address, " On the 
Religion of Health," to a large appreciative audience 
in St. George's Hall. The same year a small meeting 
was held in the drawing-room of 6 Burwood Place, to 
consider the important subject of a steady and wide 
diffusion of sanitary knowledge among all the people. 
There "The National Health Society" was formed, 
for which Mr. Prout Newcombe (who was present) 
shaped the stamp of the society, with its motto, 
" Prevention is better than cure." This society, which 
established its first office in Berners Street under the 
intelligent secretaryship of Miss Toulmin Smith, con- 
tinues its enlarging sphere of usefulness under the able 
management of Miss Fay Lankester. 

At this time the medical dispensary established 
by Miss Garrett for women and children in Seymour 
Place was growing and enlisting a large number of 
influential friends. 

From this small beginning has grown the New 
Hospital and London School of Medicine for Women, 
connected with the Royal Free Hospital. This is not 
the place to speak of the intelligent and persevering 
efforts to which those institutions owe their origin. 
The work of Dr. Garrett Anderson and Dr. Sophia Jex 
Blake will always be remembered. It was my privilege 
and pleasure in some small degree to encourage these 
brave workers in their pioneer enterprise in Eng- 

Whilst attending to an increasing medical practice, 
a visit from Mr. William Pare, who had written an 
interesting account of the Ralahine land experiment 
in Ireland, which proved so successful under the 
management of Mr. E. T. Craig, drew my attention to 
the important co-operative movement steadily grow- 

200 Pioneer Work 

ing in England. 1 The abortive attempts at co-opera- 
tive society which I had watched in the United States, 
at Brook Farm, Red Bank, Eagleswood, and other 
places, in no way shook the faith that through failure 
and renewed effort the true principles of a wise organisa- 
tion of human relations would gradually be evolved. 
The English co-operative movement was characteristic 
of the common-sense, unambitious way in which 
reforms grow in England. The religious element intro- 
duced by such a noble band of Christian Socialists as 
Maurice, Kingsley, Hughes, and Ludlow gave a hope- 
fulness to this movement which no attempts based on 
a limited view of material well-being can afford. 

Medical experience was daily showing the influence 
of the mind over the body, and I eagerly longed to see 
an embodiment of Christian principles in society, 
which embodiment was, as yet, far from attainment. 

In pursuance of this investigation, at the end of 
August 1872 I determined to visit the Familistere 
of Guise, formed by Godin Lemaire. His book, 
Solutions Societies, describing the growth of the in- 
stitution, was exceedingly interesting, and contained 
valuable suggestions for future workers, and I wished 
to see its practical working for myself. At the end of a 
fatiguing journey to Guise, on the Belgian frontier of 
France, for at that time many miles had to be traversed 
by diligence, I was cordially welcomed by M. Lemaire, 
and spent several very interesting days in the great 
Familistere, observing the life there. 

The Familistere, which accommodated several 
hundred people, was erected on a tract of land 
almost encircled by the river, which tract was laid 
out in gardens and pleasure grounds. Across the 
river stood the large factories and workshops for the 

1 This remarkable experiment of 1831, with its tragic termina- 
tion, is related by Mr. Pare (Longmans, Green, & Co.) and by Mr. 
Craig (Triibner). It is well worth the careful study of all co-operative 

The Familistere 201 

manufacture of stoves, &c, which furnished the re- 
munerative occupation of the little community. 

I attended the prize-giving at the schools, saw the 
theatre, workmen's club and choral society, witnessed 
a ball, and visited the manufactory. The organisation 
was a great object-lesson both in its success and its 
defects ; full of interest to those who seriously study 
this important subject of improved social relations. 
The life at the Familistere, however, was intense, and 
rather overpowering to me. 

Shortly after my return I was attacked by illness, 
which proved so serious in its effects that in 1873 the 
Burwood Place establishment was broken up, and my 
plan of life necessarily changed. During the next 
three years I vainly endeavoured to resume my London 
work, but was frequently obliged to seek health in 
change of residence and foreign travel. This travel 
included a memorable winter in Rome, which need 
not be further referred to, although the approach to 
the Eternal City — when, across the Campagna, the 
dome of St. Peter's was first visible — was a thrilling 
personal joy, never to be forgotten. But my purely 
personal experiences will not be dwelt on. 

When the London School of Medicine for Women 
was established I hastened my return, and accepted 
the Chair of Gynaecology in the college. 

In my lodgings in Dorset Square I again suffered 
from atrocious biliary colic, which the able physicians 
whom I consulted were unable to relieve, finished my 
course of lectures with extreme difficulty, and came 
to the conclusion, with bitter disappointment, that 
any future residence in London under my circum- 
stances must be given up. 

The winters of 1876-8 were spent chiefly at Bor- 
dighera and in Nice. An episode there is worth 

My enlarging experience in various countries in 
respect to the relations between men and women — 

202 Pioneer Work 

the customs, the diseases, the social disaster spring- 
ing from errors as to human physiology and neglect 
in education with regard to the most important 
functions — showed me the imperative work which 
devolved upon the physician in this matter. I realised 
that the mind cannot be separated from the body in 
any profound view of the scope of medical responsi- 
bility. Under the olive trees of Bordighera, and 
sitting by its lovely blue sea, I meditated on the duty 
of the physician, and finally wrote the small work, 
Counsel to Parents on the Moral Education of their 

So little at that time was the importance of sexual 
education understood, and the necessity of its con- 
sideration accepted, that when I read my manuscript 
to a warm and enlightened English friend staying at 
Mentone, she assured me that if I published that manu- 
script my " name would be a forbidden word in 

I sent the manuscript, however, to about twelve of the 
leading London publishers, who all declined the publi- 
cation. I therefore printed a small edition myself, which 
a bookseller consented to keep on sale. A copy of this 
little book fell under the notice of Miss Ellice Hopkins, 
who, considering that it would be useful in the special 
work in which she was engaged, induced Mr. Hudson, 
the then acting member of the firm of Hat chard & Co., 
to reconsider the matter and publish the book for her 
use. The arrangement was made and the book 
printed ; but soon after I received a letter saying 
that though the firm had never yet broken faith with 
an author, yet they feared they must do so now ; for 
the senior member of the firm, Bishop Hatchard's 
widow, had seen the proof of the book, thrown it into 
the fire, and desired that its publication should be 
stopped ! 

Finally, a little consultation of elderly clergymen 
was called to consider the subject, and it was at last 

Publication of " Moral Education ' 203 

resolved that if the name of the work could be changed, 
and the distinct announcement made in the title that 
it was a medical as well as a moral work, the publica- 
tion might be continued. Of course the change was 
made, and Counsel to Parents became The Moral 
Education of the Young, considered under Medical and 
Social Aspects. 

I mention this curious experience as an encourage- 
ment to those who are engaged in all branches of moral 
work. Public sentiment has advanced since 1876. 
Looking now at the very reticent way in which the 
subject is treated in this little book, it is difficult to 
believe that such an episode could have occurred. 

It has become clear to me that our medical pro- 
fession has not yet fully realised the special and 
weighty responsibility which rests upon it to watch 
over the cradle of the race ; to see that human beings 
are well born, well nourished, and well educated. The 
onward impulse to this great work would seem to be 
especially incumbent upon women physicians, who for 
the first time are beginning to realise the all-important 
character of parentage in its influence upon the adult 
as well as on the child — i.e. on the race. 

To every woman, as well as to every man, the 
responsible function of parentage is delegated. Our 
nature is dwarfed or degraded if the growth which 
should be attained by the exercise of parentage, 
directly or potentially, be either avoided or perverted. 

The physician knows that the natural family group 
is the first essential element of a progressive society. 
The degeneration of that element by the degradation 
of either of its two essential factors, the man or the 
woman, begins the ruin of a State. 

It is a source of deep gratitude in a long medical 
life to have been enabled by physiological knowledge, 
as well as experience, to perceive the true point of 
view from which the special nature of man and woman 
must be regarded. It is well worth the efforts of a 

204 Pioneer Work 

lifetime to have attained knowledge which justifies an 
attack on the root of all evil — viz. the deadly atheism 
which asserts that because forms of evil have always 
existed in society, therefore they must always exist ; 
and that the attainment of a high ideal is a hopeless 

The study of human nature by women as well as 
men commences that new and hopeful era of the 
intelligent co-operation of the sexes through which 
alone real progress can be attained and secured. We 
may look forward with hope to the future influence of 
Christian women physicians when, with sympathy and 
reverence guiding intellectual activity, they learn to 
apply the vital principles of their Great Master to every 
method and practice of the healing art. 



Editor of " The English Essayists," " Great Thinkers and Workers" 
" Beneficent and Useful Lives," etc. 

Those who have gone thus far in the perusal of Dr. 
Elizabeth Blackwell's book will regret that the mani- 
fold activities of the last thirty years of her life were 
unchronicled by herself. A perusal of the Bibliography 
will give some idea of the variety of the subjects dealt 
with, from health and sex problems, to Christian 
Socialism and the influence of women in medicine. 
She felt the need of educating public opinion, and 
conducted a vigorous propaganda, on the lecture plat- 
form, through the press, or by post. Especially she 
aimed at influencing the medical profession in certain 
important subjects. Into all this she put her mind 
and heart for the good of humanity. The more im- 
portant of her addresses and essays she selected for 
reproduction in the two volumes of Essays in Medical 
Sociology (1902), which emphasize the lessons of Pioneer 
Work, and embody the ripe experience of a lifetime. 

The moral enthusiasm which shines in Pioneer Work 
for certain important questions carried her far in 
advance of public opinion. On sanitation, health 
problems, elimination of venereal disease, the White 
Slave Traffic, she was not only a pioneer, but we have 
not yet got up to the standard of righteousness she 
emphasised in season and out of season on these sub- 
jects. She even suggested that it might be possible 
for her to come back from the world of spirits and 
torment the evil-doers in this life. On many medical 
subjects she spoke with the authority of knowledge 
and experience. Not the least valuable feature of her 


2o6 Pioneer Work 

life was the demonstration of the value of woman's 
influence upon men in the co-education of the sexes 
in medicine. In the words of a recent writer, she 
lived to see the river of her individual life expand into 
the ocean of a world movement. 

The preceding narrative was originally written at 
the pressing request of her adopted daughter Miss 
Katherine Barry, who at a later period urged her to 
write an additional chapter, bringing the story nearer 
our own times. In a letter of July i, 1900, written 
on the eve of a journey to Kirn, on the Clyde, she 
expressed the hope that she might be invigorated 
enough from her stay in Scotland " to add a full con- 
cluding chapter of the last twenty-five years which have 
elapsed since I wrote the little work. . . . But whether 
I can do what she (Miss Barry) so ardently wishes is a 
question. ... I shall really be very glad if I can so 
reinvigorate myself as to make a suitable resume of 
the last twenty-five eventful years." This was not to 
be ; the needed strength failed her, and those who 
might have done so have passed away, so it has fallen 
to a stranger, but one in sympathy with her work, 
to gather, with the aid of Miss Barry, some of the 
threads that remain. 

The promise given by Dr. Blackwell to the Chancellor 
of Geneva University when receiving her doctor's 
diploma, in 1849, that it should be the effort of her 
life to shed honour on that diploma, was amply ful- 
filled. Her portrait hangs in the London School of 
Medicine for Women, also in the Elizabeth Blackwell 
House in Hobart College. The Practitioners' Society 
of Rochester, U.S.A., changed its name to the Black- 
well Medical Society in her honour. 

About fifty years after the event a letter was received 
from the President of Hobart College, Geneva, New 
York, by the graduate of 1849, which informed her 
that Hobart College had done itself the honour of 
naming its first dormitory for women after her. 

Supplementary Chapter 207 

' The College is very proud," the writer said, " of 
the fact that you are a graduate of it. Several of your 
classmates have achieved distinction in different walks 
of life. Dr. Chas. W. Hayes is Head of the DeLancey 
Divinity School, and George Cheney and William Paret 
are bishops. Perhaps you would be interested in a 
few lines received by me to-day from Bishop Paret. 
He says, ' When Miss Blackwell was about to receive 
her diploma I was a student at the College. The 
engraved diplomas had not been prepared in the 
anticipation of women graduates, and the Latin terms 
were all made in the masculine gender. The authorities 
of the Medical Department applied to President Hale, 
and asked whether there were not some student who 
wrote a very good hand, and was a good Latin scholar, 
who could draw up on parchment a diploma suited for 
that particular case. Dr. Hale recommended me, and 
the diploma which was given to Miss Blackwell was 
the one which I so prepared.' This statement of 
Bishop Paret was so interesting to me that I felt it 
could not but be more interesting to you. 

" You may not have heard that William Smith, of 
Geneva, gave Hobart College, some two years ago, 
the sum of almost half a million dollars with which to 
endow the William Smith College for Women. The 
plan is that of the co-ordinate education of men and 
women, and not the co-educational one. The girls are 
taught by the same Faculty as the boys, but they are 
separated at lectures and recitations. Mr. Smith has 
erected a fine hall of science, in which biological and 
psychological laboratories have been established. The 
College already possessed chemical and physical 

" I have given you these facts because I felt that 
you would find them of peculiar interest. We have 
invited Miss Alice Stone Blackwell and your sister 
Miss Emily Blackwell to be with us on the nineteenth. 
We wish that you might be with us too. Will you not 

208 Pioneer Work 

receive from me and from the authorities of Hobart 
College our profound felicitations upon your useful 
and noble career, and accept our sincere assurance 
that, in naming the first dormitory of the William 
Smith College in memory of you, we have given not 
only satisfaction to ourselves, but distinction to the 

When the New York Infirmary and Medical School 
were well established Dr. Blackwell felt that her work 
for medicine in America was done and could be left 
in the hands of her sister Dr. Emily Blackwell and an 
able corps of professors. Every kind of available 
means for collecting funds had been resorted to — 
bazaars, lectures, concerts. In twenty years from the 
time of her graduation medical schools for women were 
established in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. 
She crossed to Great Britain to inaugurate and inspire 
a like work there. One pupil so inspired was Miss 
Jex Blake, whose book, Medical Women, tells how the 
battle was won in Edinburgh, and of those who helped 
or hindered. Miss Garrett (now Dr. Elizabeth 
Garrett Anderson) was another of those influenced 
by the Marylebone lectures of 1859. 

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell was not a good sailor, and 
being worn out in body and mind, she nearly lost her 
life in crossing to Britain in 1869. She rested for a time 
in the English Lake District. But rest and recupera- 
tion with her only meant fresh forms of activity and 
usefulness. She settled at 6 Burwood Place, Maryle- 
bone, London, where she laid the foundation of a large 
and successful medical practice. In the circle of her 
acquaintance then, or formerly, were Lady Noel 
Byron, Herbert Spencer, Charles Kingsley, Dante 
Gabriel Rossetti, Mrs. Jameson, the Herschels, Fara- 
day, and Florence Nightingale, with whom she was in 
close sympathy in matters of health and sanitary 

At a drawing-room meeting at her home, the National 

Supplementary Chapter 209 

Health Society was formed in 1871, with its excellent 
motto, to which she tried to live up to, " Prevention 
is better than cure." Its first office was in Berners 
Street. To the Working Women's College she lectured 
on " How to Keep a Household in Health," and to the 
Sunday Lecture Society on " The Religion of Health." 
But her own health breaking down she was obliged 
to seek rest and change in foreign travel, and visited 
Rome amongst other places. The New Hospital and 
London School of Medicine for Women had its origin 
in the medical dispensary established in Seymour 
Place by Miss Garrett. When opened in 1875 Dr. 
Blackwell was offered and accepted the chair of 
gynaecology. Attacks of colic led to her release from 
labour, and the winters of 1876-8 spent on the Riviera 
were fruitful in certain results. Under the olive trees 
of Bordighera, she tells us, was thought out one of the 
most striking and important of her small books, Counsel 
to Parents on the Moral Education of their Children — in 
Relation to Sex, of which an eighth edition was issued in 
1913. A wiser book of its kind was never written. As she 
mentions, twelve London publishers at first declined 
the book. It also now appears in her Essays in Medical 
Sociology. An article contributed to the Modern 
Review on "Medicine and Morality" she did not 
see fit to preserve in this work, as conditions had 

When ill-health made it certain that she could not 
further continue her medical practice in London, she 
purchased a house above the sea at Hastings, named, 
from its situation, Rock House ; and here, with her 
faithful Kitty Barry, she lived a quietly busy life for 
more than thirty years. She helped weak causes, and 
inspired others. She revisited America in 1906, when 
in her eighty-sixth year. 

" Her home life," writes her friend Dr. Eliza M. 
Mosher of Brooklyn, " was beautifully simple, and 
she was not a woman of many words, and those she 

210 Pioneer Work 

spoke even in ordinary conversation she seemed always 
to weigh with care. Her bearing was very dignified 
and unmistakably that of high breeding and fine 
gentleness. She appreciated wit and sometimes sur- 
prised and delighted her friends by an unexpected sally. 
She once sent a very original invitation in the form of 
a prescription to two medical friends who were stopping 
at a hotel in Hastings. It was written in Latin with 
directions 'to be taken immediately.'" 

Her sentiments in writing to Mrs. T. L. Browne, in 
1902, anticipate the White Slave Traffic Act. She said 
" that no known disreputable woman should be allowed 
to land (in England), or any known disreputable man. 
Corrupt France has corrupted England and corrupted 
Englishmen ; for Englishmen go to France to enjoy a 
lower state of vileness than has yet taken root in 
England." Her labours along with Josephine Butler 
enabled her to write on " The Wrong and Right 
Methods against the CD. Acts." She had no illu- 
sions, however, for she wrote: "Sexual injustice is 
nowhere fully recognised, I fear, at present. It is 
a lifelong battle that the true Anglo-Saxon race has 
to wage ! " 

At Rock House she cultivated relations with her 
poorer neighbours and tried to bring a little brightness 
into their hard-working lives. A Home Colonisation 
Fund to create a co-operative farm and settlement 
was another scheme, while the Garden City movement 
interested her, and she read Ebenezer Howard's 
To-morrow with pleasure. She wrote : " The advocacy 
of true principles of living seems to me more interesting 
than anything else in this short earthly life of ours ; 
and certainly advancement of true noble co-operation 
is one of the most useful efforts in which we can now 
engage. The drawing people back to the land, under 
healthy conditions, is a most important work." 

In the spring of 1900 she accepted in the spirit of 
meekness a scolding from her friend and fellow-worker 

Supplementary Chapter 211 

Mrs. Browne, and promised to try and remember that 
she had entered on her eightieth year, and could no 
longer initiate and stimulate useful work as she had 
previously done. 

She wrote thus to a friend : 

" How lovely the sudden outburst of spring foliage 
is ! I look up my valley, and see the horse chestnuts, 
the sycamores, and every bush and tree rivalling the 
vivid green of the grass. How interesting it will be 
when our higher human spirit renews its vigorous life. 
But now I must content myself with planning for one 
more Highland journey." This meant a holiday at 
Kilmun on Holy Loch, where several quiet, restful 
holidays had succeeded that visit to Kirn in 1900. In 
the hotel register, under date August 1905, we found 
this entry in her own handwriting: " Our fourth visit 
to this hotel. Each time the air of Kilmun seems 
more invigorating, and our host and hostess kinder." 
She greatly loved the quiet beauty and health-giving 
air of this region, and had expressed the sentiment that 
there were just two places which she would like as her 
last resting-place — the Campo Santo of Genoa, and 

In no part of the United Kingdom are there finer 
sailing routes or better steamboats to negotiate them 
than upon the Firth of Clyde. No one who has ever 
sailed into any of the sea-lochs with which the northern 
shore is honeycombed, or through the winding water- 
way of the Kyles of Bute, is likely to forget the 
experience. On the way from Glasgow, after the 
entrance to Gareloch and Loch Long on the north 
shore comes Holy Loch, which runs inland for 
three miles, and, though small, yields to none of 
the other lochs in beauty and interest. It may be 
most easily reached from Strone or Hunter's Quay, a 
centre of the Royal Clyde Yacht Club. The other 
villages on Holy Loch are Sandbank and Kilmun. A 
charming view of the rugged Argyllshire hills bounds 

212 Pioneer Work 

the vision at the top ; these hills are pierced by the 
valleys of Glen Lean, Glen Massan, and the picturesque 
road to Loch Eck. The beautiful estate of Ben More, 
named after the highest hill in the neighbourhood, 
nestles in the foreground. There is a memorial near 
Kilmun to Mr. Duncan, a former proprietor, who enter- 
tained Mr. Spurgeon frequently there. There is no 
memorial to the greatest benefactor of the district, 
David Napier, the Glasgow marine engineer and ship- 
building genius. He took up steam navigation where 
Henry Bell and other pioneers had left it, and in- 
augurated some of those river and channel services 
which were the prophecy of greater conquests to come. 
He made the north shore, on which stands Kilmun, 
accessible to the outside world by road and steamer ; 
built the pier, hotel, and many of the villas at Kilmun ; 
ran the first road locomotive in Scotland between 
Kilmun and Loch Eck (1828) ; put the first iron 
steamer built in the United Kingdom on Loch Eck, 
and made the engines for the first of those on Loch 
Fyne and Loch Lomond. His Rob Roy steamer (1818), 
which ran between Glasgow and Belfast, was the pioneer 
of all the crowd of later coasting steamers. Between 
1818 and 1830 no man effected more for steam naviga- 
tion than David Napier. 

There is a tradition that the name of the Holy Loch 
and of the church of Kilmun owe their origin to a 
Glasgow-bound ship bringing a cargo of consecrated 
earth from the Holy Land, which stranded here. On 
the consecrated earth a church was built. A Columban 
church was founded here by St. Fintan Munnu from 
Ireland ; Sir Duncan Campbell of Loch Awe founded 
a collegiate church for a priest and six prebendaries in 
the fifteenth century. Its ruined tower still stands in 
the churchyard ; and thither from Magdalene Chapel, 
Edinburgh, was brought the headless body of the great 
Marquis of Argyll in 1661, and three years later the 
head was laid beside it. The eighth Duke of Argyll, 

Supplementary Chapter 213 

George Douglas Campbell (1823-1900), was laid beside 
the rest of his race in the mausoleum to the north of 
the church. The ruined tower of the fifteenth-century 
church stands beside the parish church, from which a 
pleasing and memorable view may be had of the loch 
and surrounding hills. The mildness of the climate 
is seen in the growth of all the well-known forest 
trees, the fine evergreen shrubbery, fuchsias, and 
arbutus. From such a setting Elizabeth Blackwell 
enjoyed the view of what she called " the Delectable 
Mountains " ! 

When Elizabeth Blackwell began to practise medi- 
cine in New York as a young woman she felt her loneli- 
ness and isolation and determined to take a little 
orphan girl to bring up. She went with her sister Dr. 
Emily to the city orphan asylum to select one, and her 
choice fell on Katherine Barry, who proved a lifelong 
helper and friend. It was one of the most fortunate 
acts of her life, as far as her personal happiness was 
concerned. The orphan girl proved to have great 
intelligence and a heart of gold. With the warmest 
affection she devoted her whole life to her foster- 
mother. A relative remarked that " Kitty fits herself 
into all Elizabeth's angles like an eider-down quilt." 
All the three sisters followed this example and adopted 
a child, Elizabeth being the first to do so. The adopted 
daughter of Dr. Emily married and her children cheered 
her last days. And there, too, in the very rooms they 
occupied as a holiday home in Kilmun Hotel, we found 
Miss Katherine Barry, her adopted daughter and life- 
long companion, established. Surrounded by the 
familiar books and pictures, with the dog Khaki she 
had known and loved, she had still about her an atmo- 
sphere of the good lady. Ver}/ interesting was the 
diploma of 1849, which was handed over to Queen 
Margaret College, Glasgow, in 1913. 

In a remnant of her library, with Miss Barry at 
Kilmun, we saw amongst other books her Bible and 

214 Pioneer Work 

parallel New Testament, Josephine Butler's Life, that 
of Dr. Arnold and Tennyson, with Tennyson's poems ; 
Longfellow's Dante, Boswell's Johnson, Powell on the 
Order of Nature (a present from Lady Byron), Tre- 
velyan's Garibaldi, Hare's Talks in Rome, Victor 
Hugo's works, English Wayfaring Life, and Chambers's 
Encyclopedia. To one of her correspondents she 
acknowledges having read and enjoyed Professor 
Henry Drummond's New Evangelism and his Life, and 
found him a congenial thinker. 

While at Kilmun in 1907 she fell headlong down the 
hotel stairs ; although no bones were broken, the shock 
to her nervous system was so great that she never 
entirely recovered from it. She was unable to do much 
intellectual work from that time forward, but she 
remained cheerful and very appreciative of the tender 
care bestowed upon her. She often sat for hours beside 
her open fire apparently in deep meditation, a bright 
smile irradiating her face when those she loved ap- 
proached her ; but her great mind had done its work, and 
without bodily disease she awaited the renewal of the 
life of the spirit which she had always believed would 
come to her when her earthly life should cease. On the 
31st May, 1910, our great pioneer woman in medicine 
passed away. 

Funeral services for Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell were 
held at St. Clement's, Hastings, on June 4th, and the 
interment took place the next day at Kilmun, Argyll- 
shire, Scotland. The remains were interred in Kilmun 
Cemetery, in the presence of a few mourners. A service 
was held in the parish church, when the Rev. A. 
Wallace Mackinlay paid a high tribute to her life and 
work as a lady practitioner. Those present were Miss 
Melville, m.a., representing Queen Margaret College ; 
Miss Stewart and Miss Orr, Queen Margaret Medical 
Club ; Miss Charteris, m.a., Glasgow University Wo- 
men Graduates' Association ; Mrs. Swan, Women's 
Liberal Federation ; Dr. Picken, Queen Margaret 

Supplementary Chapter 215 

Medical Students ; Dr. Louise Mcllroy and Dr. Mabel 
Jones, Mr. MacDonald Ramsey, m.d., and Dr. Yellow- 
lees. There were several wreaths from England, a 
large one of laurel leaves, bearing the names of a 
number of lady practitioners, and an inscription, " A 
pioneer — from some of those who are trying to follow 
in her footsteps." The Royal Free Hospital School of 
Medicine for Women also sent a wreath. 

There, at the hamlet of Kilmun, rests Elizabeth 
Blackwell. A handsome Celtic cross marks the spot 
behind the mausoleum of Douglas of Glenfmnert, 
and not far from that of the Argyll family. The epitaph 
reads thus : — 

In loving memory of Elizabeth Blackwell, m.d., born at 
Bristol 3rd February, 1821, died at Hastings 31st May, 

The first woman of modern times to graduate in medicine 
(1849) and the first to be placed on the British Medical 
Register (1859). 

It is only when we have learned to recognise that God's 
law for the human body is as sacred as — nay, is one with 
— God's law for the human soul that we shall begin to 
understand the religion of the heart. 

" Love seeketh not her own " (1 Cor. xiii. 5). 
" The pure in heart shall see God " (Matt. v. 8). 

The extract given above is the concluding sentence 
from her lecture on " The Religion of Health." 

Dr. Mosher of Brooklyn has said that " no one can 
review the life of this noble woman without believing 
that she was called of God to open up the great field 
of medicine to women, which had been so many years 
closed. The call was definite and distinct. Against her 
natural inclination she listened and obeyed. Through 
long years of toil and opposition she cheerfully pushed 
on. The loss of an eye delayed but did not deter her, 
nor cause her to doubt the certainty of her call. Her 
respect for good men was unbounded, but she believed 

216 Pioneer Work 

that, standing alone, even in medicine, they cannot do 
all that should be done to improve the home, the school, 
and the State. She was fully persuaded that the 
qualities of mind and heart which have come to women 
through ages of motherhood are needed for the full 
comprehension of the physical nature of girls and 
women. She also believed it essential for women to be 
medically educated in order to help on the good work 
of the prevention of disease, both physical and moral. 
Dr. Blackwell's work is not done. She lived so far in 
advance of her day that it has taken fifty years for us 
to bring even the head of the line up to her standard." 

Dr. Blackwell was under no illusions as to the un- 
popularity of her writings. To Mrs. S. Woolcott Browne 
she wrote that she could never make her writings 
popular. " I think they belong to the year 1998 of 
the future. I feel encouraged in this unique work 
which is given me to do. Have faith, dear friend ; 
God is ruling, and will not let us be drowned in sin, 
any more than by water." She was never discouraged 
even when the doctors said that in two hundred years 
her true views on certain medical subjects would pre- 
vail. To Mrs. Browne she wrote, " Do you know this 
is very encouraging to me, for it is the same sort of 
judgments I met with when I sought to study medicine 
and it makes me feel like an old war-horse pawing the 
ground with eagerness. ... It seems to me that to 
try steadfastly to act on the medical profession is 
my special line of work. Each soul must answer to 
its Maker, so I work on in joyful faith, and find much 
delightful encouragement." 

Pioneer Work here reprinted was first issued by 
Longmans in the autumn of 1895. She had thought 
once of putting The Religion of Health, with other 
writings, at the end. Instead, this was inserted in 
Essays in Medical Sociology. Pioneer Work in 
Opening the Medical Profession to Women is a 
genuinely human document, rich in humour, with sane 

Supplementary Chapter 217 

and high-toned views of life, and has been an inspira- 
tion to all who have read it. Her friend and neighbour 
at Hastings, the late W. Hale White, thought it was 
wonderful, especially in the leaving out of the capital I. 

A lady medical, Dr. Evelyn, wrote to her sister, 
Dr. Emily, of her autobiography that it was an in- 
spiration to have such a book near her. " The prob- 
lems she deals with I have been wrestling with night 
and day, and her quiet, natural way of putting things 
is wonderfully helpful, and her lofty ethical attitude 
is the most satisfactory thing with which I have come 
in contact for I can't tell how long." 

Two other letters follow. 

Jeanne E. Schmahl wrote about it from Paris, 
November 30, 1895 : — 

As usual, communion with you has a most encouraging 
and elevating effect upon me. I have read your book and 
it has been a treat indeed. The quiet fun and bright sense 
of humour are delightful. Then the pathos and the pity 
of the loss of your perfect sight brought tears into my eyes 
as I read. It is a beautiful book. ... It is a fascinating 
book, and you, dear friend, have done again a noble deed in 
giving this story of your early days and pioneer work to 
the world. Scientific work and the study of medicine are 
now so easy to the rising generation, that some people are 
in danger of forgetting at the price of what courage, forti- 
tude, and perseverance they are gained. 

If the young people would only put a little of the moral 
qualities into their work that you put into yours when you 
set out on the lonely way which was to become, thanks to 
you, a beaten path, how glorious women's work would soon 
become and how helpful to poor humanity. 

18 Upper Westbourne Terrace, W. 
February yd, 1908. 
You have left plenty for the younger generation to do, 
but you have shown the way. " The Light which lighteth 
every man which cometh into the world " has made you a 
light to others, and we rejoice that, whether in the visible 
or the still invisible, we are moving on to more and more 
light. Adelaide Ross. 

218 Pioneer Work 

While revising the lectures and essays for the 
volumes entitled Medical Sociology she wrote to a 
friend : "I have entered upon a revision of my 
writings, but am rather shocked to find that ever since 
1852 I have been contributing to the awful accumula- 
tion of literature which threatens to overwhelm us 
with a second deluge. For I have just discovered an 
early work, Laws of Life, which bears that date, and 
is really a sort of introduction to everything I have 
since written. 

" However, I have faith that having cast my bread 
upon the waters it has done its work, and it is not 
necessary to gather it up again." 

Of a French translation of the Religion of Health 
she wrote : "I rejoiced to welcome the little old 
friend. May it continue to do its tiny work for God 
and Humanity when I have disappeared from human 

The Preface to Medical Sociology is dated 1902, and 
in it she said, " Truth never grows old, though re- 
adaptation to different phases of life may be necessary. 
I shall rejoice if anything I have written in the past 
may prove helpful to the younger generation of 
workers, with whom I am in hearty sympathy." 

A glance at our bibliography will show the chief 
subjects upon which she wrote papers or lectured 
to appreciative audiences. Her lectures on " The 
Physical Education of Girls," delivered in a basement 
Sunday-school room in New York in 1852, when pub- 
lished, were favourably regarded by physicians, drew 
forth an appreciative letter from the dean of her 
college at Geneva, and had the commendation of 
John Ruskin. She opposed compulsory vaccination, 
the abuse of vivisection, and also strongly opposed 
the State regulation of vice. Both sisters had 
great public spirit and a sense of public duty. 
In How to Keep a Household in Health she laid 
down rules of health for the guidance of women 

Supplementary Chapter 219 

in the management of their households. She wrote 
on " The Human Element in Sex," and was concerned 
that human beings might be well born, well nourished, 
and well educated. To the end of her active life she, 
with tongue and pen, used her influence against the 
licensing of prostitutes and the double standard of 
morals for the sexes. She took high ground for medical 
women : " We may look forward with hope to the 
future influence of Christian women physicians when, 
with sympathy and reverence guiding intellectual 
activity, they learn to apply the vital principles of 
their Great Master to every method and practice of 
the healing art." 

The Moral Education of the Young has been placed 
high in the list of reference books used by the American 
Society of Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis. 

Christian Socialism (1882), thoughts suggested by 
the Easter season, recalls that the grand idea of human 
brotherhood is a vital principle of our Lord's teaching 
and the foundation on which He builds His Church. 
It discusses the relation of capital and labour. She 
suggests the re-purchase of land by Christian joint- 
stock companies in order that its control and manage- 
ment may henceforth belong to those who live upon it 
and use it. Economy in distribution and management ; 
a fair share of profits to all workers ; the formation 
of insurance funds which will secure aid to every 
worker in sickness or old age ; sanitary dwellings ; 
the entire abolition of all trade in the human body 
and equal purity for boys and girls, men and women. 
Religious principle must be recognised as the essential 
basis of permanent future growth, and what is now 
urgently needed from the Church is aid in adapting 
the never-changing principle of Christian brotherhood 
to the ever-changing conditions of each new age ! 

Other members of the Blackwell family showed 
marked individuality and talent, notably Dr. Emily, 
born in 1826, who died in the same year as Elizabeth, 

220 Pioneer Work 

at York Cliffs, Me., September 7, 1910, and Mr. Henry 
Browne Blackwell, born May 4, 1825, who died 
on September 7, 1909. Samuel C. Blackwell in 1856 
married Antoinette Louise Brown, author and minister, 
who wrote many books and promoted woman's 
suffrage. On the occasion of the eightieth birthday of 
Dr. Emily, her niece, Miss Alice Stone Blackwell, gave 
a narrative of her career in the Boston Woman's 
Journal of October 6, 1906. When Elizabeth an- 
nounced her determination to become a physician, 
Emily, then a girl of eighteen, made up her mind to do 
the same, in order to make an independent life for 
herself and to help to open the door for other women. 
Emily taught for several years in Cincinnati, New York, 
and Henderson, Kentucky, part of the time as a private 
governess and part in schools. Having saved about 
£200 for her medical education she entered the medical 
college at Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated with honours 
in 1854, the only woman in her class. She had applied 
to the medical school at Geneva, New York, where 
Elizabeth had graduated, but was refused. Between 
her first and second terms at Cleveland she had walked 
the wards at Bellevue Hospital in New York, Horace 
Greeley exerting himself in order to give her a chance. 
After taking her degree she studied abroad ; in Edin- 
burgh under Dr., afterwards Sir James Young Simpson ; 
in London with Dr. Jenner at the Children's Hospital 
and at St. Bartholomew's ; in Paris at the Hospital 
Beaujeu. Here she took the full course of midwifery 
at the Maternite. 

When Dr. Emily returned to New York in 185C 
with the highest testimonials from Europe, her sister, 
Dr. Elizabeth, had secured a charter to open an in- 
firmary and dispensary for women and children, with 
the double object of furnishing free aid by women 
physicians to poor women, and of giving women 
medical students a chance for study and practice, a 
chance denied them by most of the general hospitals. 

Supplementary Chapter 221 

Some of the ladies interested in the plan had drawn 
up a circular appealing for £1000 with which to main- 
tain for a year a hospital of 100 beds. Dr. Emily 
convinced them that £1000 would not be enough to 
run it, and that they could not attend to 100 beds ; 
and she persuaded them of the necessity of beginning 
on a much smaller scale. She said : " We must take 
an inexpensive house, and get our rent guaranteed in 
advance for three years, and our running expenses 
for the first year. Then we can begin. On no account 
must we go into debt." 

Accordingly they took a house at 64 Bleecker Street 
and began (in 1857) with two tiny wards, a good 
German girl in the kitchen, one German nurse, and 
Dr. Marie Zackrzewska as resident physician. Dr. 
Emily organised the hospital, and arranged the dis- 
pensary on the model of that of the Children's Hospital 
in London. 

At the opening of the infirmary there were addresses 
of cordial sympathy by Henry Ward Beecher, Dr. 
Elder of Philadelphia, and the Rev. Dr. Tyng, Jun. 
Dr. Emily was especially impressed by the words of 
Dr. Beecher. He said : "It has been very hard work, 
and it will be very hard work, but it will succeed, 
because you have the right on your side." She felt 
that he understood, and during all the discouragements 
that came after, she felt that it was her part to live 
through " the day of small things." 

None of the predictions of disaster were fulfilled. 
The poor women flocked to the infirmary with joy, as 
they continue to do to this day. 

Dr. Elizabeth had bought a house on 15th Street, 
because no respectable boarding or lodging-house would 
take in a woman doctor. All of this house, except 
Dr. Elizabeth's office and the garret where Drs. Eliza- 
beth and Emily slept, was rented to a family that kept 
boarders. Dr. Elizabeth reserved the right to have 
her patients wait in the parlour. Dr. Emily kept in a 

222 Pioneer Work 

drawer bread, oranges, and dates, and upon these she 
made most of her meals, occasionally dining at a cheap 
restaurant in a basement. Years after she said that 
this summed up the status of medical women in New 
York at that time. ' They slept in the garret, and 
dined in the cellar, when they dined at all." Some- 
times she cooked a little piece of meat over an alcohol 
lamp ; sometimes she got the infirmary to roast her a 
very small leg of mutton, which lasted her a long time. 

Graduates of the women's medical colleges of 
Boston and Philadelphia came to the infirmary to 
get practice, and the Blackwell sisters had little clinics 
for them. The Demilt dispensary also let the women 
come there. 

Dr. Elizabeth was urged by friends in Europe to 
cross the ocean and present the importance of this 
medical work. In the summer of 1858 she sailed for 
England, as related in the autobiography. Dr. Zackr- 
zewska had a very advantageous offer from Boston and 
accepted it, and Dr. Emily was left for a year to carry 
the burden of the hospital alone. She succeeded in 
doing so. She interviewed the professors and trustees, 
looked after the wards and the dispensary, and did 
the housekeeping, economically but efficiently. She 
also took over Dr. Elizabeth's practice during her 

After a year of successful lecturing in England, Dr. 
Elizabeth returned. The three years' lease of 64 
Bleecker Street having expired, the sisters went house- 
hunting and found at the corner of Second Avenue 
and 8th Street a house which had been occupied by 
a Frenchman, and was therefore laid out in suites, 
suitable for a hospital ; and they got the trustees to 
buy it. Here the Infirmary was installed anew. Dr. 
Emily persuaded Dr. Elizabeth to sell her house and 
live in the Infirmary, and from that time they began 
to lay by money. Again they slept in the garret and 
ate in the cellar ; and again Dr. Emily organised the 

Supplementary Chapter 223 

hospital, took care of the wards and dispensary, kept 
house, and practised, while Dr. Elizabeth carried on 
a more extensive practice and gave valuable public 

For years the Infirmary got its £200 every year from 
the Legislature, and Dr. Emily and her friend were 
much complimented on the businesslike way in which 
they had gone about it. 

When the civil war broke out, the Drs. Blackwell 
called a meeting of a committee of women at the In- 
firmary to consult as to what could be done to help 
the soldiers. Dr. Bellows presided, and out of 
this grew the National Sanitary Aid Association and 
the Ladies' Sanitary Aid Association, of which the 
Blackwell sisters were active members. It worked all 
through the war, forwarding comforts for the soldiers 
and especially sending nurses. 

In 1865, by advice of some of the leading New York 
physicians, they secured a charter from the Legislature 
and opened the Women's Medical College of the New 
York Infirmary, as already related by Dr. Elizabeth. 

They tried to induce some good recognised medical 
school in New York to admit women students guar- 
anteed by the infirmary, rather than to add another 
to the separate women's colleges already existing. 
Finding it impossible at that time, they opened their 
own college. 

The new college stood above all for full and thorough 
preparation. They started out with the intention of 
making the course three years. Later the Legislature 
made a four-years' course obligatory on all candidates 
for a doctor's degree. 

In 1869 Dr. Elizabeth went to England for rest and 
recuperation, and, as already related, finally settled 
there. Dr. Emily remained and served for many years 
as Dean of the College, much esteemed and loved by 
generations of the younger women doctors. 

Dr. Emily was for years an officer of the New York 

224 Pioneer Work 

committee formed to oppose the State regulation of 
vice. She read papers on the medical aspect of the 
question at the meetings and wrote for the Philan- 

When Cornell University opened its medical school 
to women, the trustees of the Women's Medical College 
of the New York Infirmary felt that its mission was 
fulfilled, and that it was no longer necessary in view of 
the larger opportunities offered by Cornell. It was 
therefore closed ; but the Infirmary was still continued, 
and, after half a century, is still the only place in New 
York City, except one small homoeopathic hospital, 
where poor women can be treated by physicians of 
their own sex. It now occupies more commodious 
quarters at 5 Livingston Place. 

In her last days she remarked that " no one who was 
not alive sixty years ago can realise the iron wall 
hemming in on every side any young woman who 
wished to earn her living or to do anything outside 
of the narrowest conventional groove. Such a woman 
was simply crushed. Those who were of a character 
not to be crushed without resistance, had to fight for 
their lives, and their fight broke the way through for 
the others to follow." 

Dr. Gertrude B. Kelly has said that she had never 
known a woman with clearer brain, saner judgment, 
wider outlook, and more whole-hearted devotion than 
Dr. Emily Blackwell. 

Henry B. Blackwell was born May 4, 1825, and died 
September 7, 1909. The family, as has been related, 
took an active interest in the anti-slavery movement, 
their home on Long Island being a refuge for persecuted 
abolitionists, and Henry as a child helped his sisters 
to do up candies to be sold at the anti-slavery fairs. 
When the family removed to Cincinnati, in 1838, his 
father, Samuel Blackwell, had hoped to introduce the 
cultivation of beet-sugar, and thereby make the slave- 
grown cane-sugar unprofitable ; but he died the same 

Supplementary Chapter 225 

year, leaving his widow and nine children very poor 
and dependent on their own exertions. While the 
mother and elder daughters, as related, opened a 
school, Henry, a bright boy of thirteen, first assisted 
his mother by acting as cook for the family. He con- 
cocted savory stews in a broken coffee-pot, and boasted 
of his ability to make three wholly different kinds of 
good bread. 

He began his business life as an office boy ; later he 
was employed in a bank ; then in the milling business, 
and finally became travelling partner in a hardware 
firm, building up a large trade in the Wabash Valley. 
For seven years he travelled on horseback all through 
Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, often over abominable 
roads. He slept at night in log cabins, meeting the 
plain people of the West in a way which he said was 
worth more to him than a liberal education. He had 
a fine voice for singing and speaking, bubbled over 
with fun, and was full of energy. He was of the group 
of young men who brought Ralph Waldo Emerson, 
Theodore Parker, and others to lecture in the West. 
In 1853 he also took part in the Free Soil Movement. 
On account of the leading part he took in the rescue of 
a slave girl a reward of £2000 was offered for his head. 
In 1855 he was married to Lucy Stone, a gifted and 
prominent advocate of woman's suffrage, and by 
mutual consent she retained her maiden name. When 
their neighbour Harriet Beecher Stowe heard of it she 
said, "Is it possible that that wild boy has married 
Lucy Stone ? " Next he moved to New Jersey, where 
he engaged in the book business, in sugar-refining, 
and in real estate, making money in all. He was 
successful also in introducing the beet-sugar industry 
into Maine. While in the book business he introduced 
into the school districts of Illinois nearly two thousand 
agricultural libraries. He was one of the founders 
of the American Woman's Suffrage Association, in 
1869, and for the next twenty years conducted a 

226 Pioneer Work 

vigorous crusade in its behalf. After 1870, when in 
comfortable circumstances, he did much voluntary 
work in this field, and acted on the editorial staff of 
the Boston Woman's Journal, along with his wife and 
daughter. He had great native ability, and although 
mainly self-taught, he could recite long Latin orations, 
was widely read, and had much general information. 

Of his wife, Lucy Stone, it was said that she first 
really stirred the nation's heart on the subject of 
women's wrongs. The daughter of a prosperous farmer 
of West Brookfield, Mass., she was born in 181 8. 
She had graduated at Oberlin in 1847, an d in the same 
year gave her first lecture on women's rights in her 
brother's church at Gardner, Mass. She travelled and 
lectured on this subject and anti-slavery. In 1869 
she founded the American Woman's Suffrage Associa- 
tion. In 1870 she became co-editor of the Woman's 
Journal in Boston ; and in 1872 editor-in-chief, with 
her husband, Mr. H. B. Blackwell, and her daughter, 
Miss Alice Stone Blackwell, as associates. Since her 
mother's death, in 1893, Miss Blackwell has been editor 
of the Woman's Journal, has written extensively on 
woman's suffrage, has taken a deep interest in the 
Armenians, and received the order of Melusine from 
Prince Guy de Lusignan. She has published Armenian 
and Russian poems and translations from the Yiddish. 

The London (Royal Free Hospital) School of 
Medicine for Women is responsible for more than half 
the women on the British Medical Register. Of the 
1000 names found there, nearly 600 are former 
students here, the school in which Dr. Blackwell was 
deeply interested, and where she held the lectureship 
in Midwifery. Women are admitted to the medifl&l 
degrees or diplomas of all the Universities of Great 
Britain and Ireland, with the exception of Oxford 
and Cambridge. New anatomy rooms for the 
Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women were 
opened by Sir William Turner in October, 1913. A 

Supplementary Chapter 227 

woman demonstrator in anatomy and a woman 
demonstrator to assist in physiology and pathology 
have also been appointed. Each year there is an in- 
crease in the posts in the Government and local health 
committees open to women doctors, and a new scheme 
for female medical service in India will broaden the 
area of possibilities. There is a higher proportion of 
women doctors and surgeons, probably between six 
and seven thousand, practising in America. 

Early in 1914 it was reported that the Ottoman 
Government had decided to open the Turkish Uni- 
versities to women, and to institute for their special 
benefit special courses on hygiene, gynaecology, 
domestic economy, science, and the rights of women. 
Surely we have travelled far, when the least progressive 
Government in Europe tries to get into line with what 
is now a world-wide movement in the education and 
elevation of women. 



The following letter, lately published in the New York 
Church Union by a well-known physician of New York, 
is interesting as the testimony of a gentleman who was a 
fellow-student in the Geneva Medical College. 

The Medical Co-education of the Sexes. By Stephen 

Smith, M.D. 

Medical circles were recently entertained by a symposium 
of prominent physicians discussing the propriety of the 
medical co-education of the sexes. All of the writers were 
opposed to the suggestion ; some, notably Dr. Weir Mitchell, 
of Philadelphia, expressed the utmost disgust at the pro- 
position. It happened to me to have witnessed the first 
instance of the co-education of medical students of both sexes 
in this country, and the results quite upset the theories of 
these gentlemen. 

The first course of medical lectures which I attended was 
in a medical college in the interior of this State in 1847-8. 
The class, numbering about 150 students, was composed 
largely of young men from the neighbouring towns. They 
were rude, boisterous, and riotous beyond comparison. On 
several occasions the residents of the neighbourhood sent 
written protests to the faculty, threatening to have the college 
indicted as a nuisance if the disturbance did not cease. During 
lectures it was often almost impossible to hear the professors, 
owing to the confusion. 

Some weeks after the course began the dean appeared 
before the class with a letter in his hand, which he craved the 
indulgence of the students to be allowed to read. Anticipation 
was extreme when he announced that it contained the most 
extraordinary request which had ever been made to the 
faculty. The letter was written by a physician of Philadelphia, 


230 Pioneer Work 

who requested the faculty to admit as a student a lady who 
was studying medicine in his office. He stated that she had 
been refused admission by several medical colleges, but, as 
this institution was in the country, he thought it more likely 
to be free from prejudice against a woman medical student. 
The dean stated that the faculty had taken action on the 
communication, and directed him to report their conclu- 
sion to the class. The faculty decided to leave the matter 
in the hands of the class, with this understanding — that 
if any single student objected to her admission, a negative 
reply would be returned. It subsequently appeared that 
the faculty did not intend to admit her, but wished to escape 
direct refusal by referring the question to the class, with a 
proviso which, it was believed, would necessarily exclude 

r But the whole affair assumed the most ludicrous aspect to 
the class, and the announcement was received with the most 
uproarious demonstrations of favour. A meeting was called 
for the evening, which was attended by every member. The 
resolution approving the admission of the lady was sustained 
by a number of the most extravagant speeches, which were 
enthusiastically cheered. The vote was finally taken, with 
what seemed to be one unanimous yell, " Yea ! " When the 
negative vote was called, a single voice was heard uttering a 
timid " No." The scene that followed passes description. 
A general rush was made for the corner of the room which 
emitted the voice, and the recalcitrant member was only too 
glad to acknowledge his error and record his vote in the 
affirmative. The facility received the decision of the class 
with evident disfavour, and returned an answer admitting 
the lady student. Two weeks or more elapsed, and as the 
lady student did not appear, the incident of her application 
was quite forgotten, and the class continued in its riotous 
career. One morning, all unexpectedly, a lady entered the 
lecture-room with the professor ; she was quite small of 
statm-e, plainly dressed, appeared diffident and retiring, 
but had a firm and determined expression of face. Her en- 
trance into that Bedlam of confusion acted like magic upon 
every student. Each hurriedly sought his seat, and the most 
absolute silence prevailed. For the first time a lecture was 
given without the slightest interruption, and every word 
could be heard as distinctly as it would if there had been 
but a single person in the room. The sudden transformation 
of this class from a band of lawless desperadoes to gentlemen, 
by the mere presence of a lady, proved to be permanent 
in its effects. A more orderly class of medical students was 

Appendix 231 

never seen than this, and it continued to be to the close of 
the term. 

The real test of the influence of a woman upon the conduct 
and character of a man in co-education was developed when 
the Professor of Anatomy came to that part of his course which 
required demonstrations that he believed should be witnessed 
only by men. The professor was a rollicking, jovial man, who 
constantly interspersed his lectures with witty remarks and 
funny anecdotes. Nor did he study to have his language 
chaste, or the moral of his stories pure and elevating. In fact, 
vulgarity and profanity formed a large part of his ordinary 
lectures ; and especially was this true of the lectures on 
the branch of anatomy above mentioned. On this account, 
chiefly, he was exceedingly popular with his class ; and 
during his lectures stamping, clapping, and cheering were 
the principal employments of the students. 

One morning our lady student was missed at the lecture 
on anatomy, and the professor entered the room evidently 
labouring under great excitement. He stated that he had a 
communication to make to the class which demanded the 
most serious consideration. He then explained that he had 
thought it highly improper that the lady student should 
attend certain lectures specially adapted for men, and as he 
was approaching that subject he had frankly advised her to 
absent herself, in a letter which he read. He dwelt upon the 
indelicacy of the subject, the embarrassment under which 
he should labour if a lady were present, and the injustice 
which would be done to the class by the imperfect manner in 
which he should be obliged to demonstrate the subject. 
He closed by offering her abundant private opportunities 
for study and dissection. He then read her reply. It was 
gracefully written, and showed a full appreciation of his 
embarrassing position, when viewed from the low standpoint 
of impure and unchaste sentiments. But she could not 
conceive of a medical man whose mind was not so elevated 
and purified by the study of the science of anatomy that 
such sentiments would for a moment influence him. Coming 
to the practical question of her attendance upon these lectures, 
she stated that if the professor would really be embarrassed 
by the presence of a lady on the first tier of seats, she would 
take her seat on the upper tier ; and she trusted that his 
interest in his subject would lead him to entirely forget the 
presence of student No. 130 — her registered number. At 
the close of the letter the professor acknowledged the justice 
of the rebuke which he had received, and declared that a lady 
who was animated by such elevated views of her profession 

232 Pioneer Work 

was entitled to every possible encouragement which the class 
or faculty could give. He then opened the door and she 
entered, only to receive an ovation of the most overwhelming 
character. The lectures on anatomy proceeded in regular 
order to their conclusion ; and it was the universal testimony 
of the oldest students that they had never listened to such a 
complete and thorough course. 

At the close of the term our lady student came up for 
examination for graduation, and took rank with the best 
students of the class. As this was the first instance of the 
granting of a medical diploma to a woman in this country, 
so far as the faculty had information, there was at first some 
hesitation about conferring the degree. But it was finally 
determined to take the novel step, and in the honour list of 
the roll of graduates for that year appears the name, Dr. 
Elizabeth Blackwell. 

Church Union. 

New York, 1892. 

A 11 M.D. in a Gown 

[The Medical Times of the 21st ult. contains a full, 
true, and particular account of the admission of a young 
lady, Miss Elizabeth Blackwell, by the General Medical 
College, in the State of New York, to a physician's degree. 
Miss Blackwell had duly attended lectures at the college, 
and received a formal diploma, under the title of " Domina," 
which was the only feminine that the Senate could find 
for Doctor. Punch really thinks this is a case for a copy 
of verses, which he accordingly subjoins, in honour of the 
fair M.D.] 

Not always is the warrior male, 

Nor masculine the sailor ; 
We all know Zaragossa's tale, 

We've all heard " Billy Taylor " ; 
But far a nobler heroine, she 

Who won the palm of knowledge, 
And took a Medical Degree, 

By study at her College. 

Appendix 233 

They talk about the gentler sex 

Mankind in sickness tending, 
And o'er the patient's couch their necks 

Solicitously bending ; 
But what avails solicitude 

In fever or in phthisic, 
If lovely woman 's not imbued 

With one idea of physic ? 

Young ladies all, of every clime, 

Especially of Britain, 
Who wholly occupy your time 

In novels or in knitting, 
Whose highest skill is but to play, 

Sing, dance, or French to clack well, 
Reflect on the example, pray, 

Of excellent Miss Blackwell ! 

Think, if you had a brother ill, 

A husband, or a lover, 
And could prescribe the draught or pill 

Whereby he might recover ; 
How much more useful this would be, 

Oh, sister, wife, or daughter ! 
Than merely handing him beef-tea, 

Gruel, or toast-and-water. 

Ye bachelors about to wed 

In youth's unthinking hey-day, 
Who look upon a furnish'd head 

As horrid for a lady, 
Who'd call a female doctor " blue"; 

You'd spare your sneers, I rather 
Think, my young fellows, if you knew 

What physic costs a father ! 

How much more blest were married life 

To men of small condition, 
If every one could have his wife 

For family physician ; 
His nursery kept from ailments free, 

By proper regulation, 
And for advice his only fee 

A thankful salutation. 

For Doctrix Blackwell — that's the way 
To dub in rightful gender — 

In her profession, ever may 
Prosperity attend her ! 


Pioneer Work 

" Punch " a gold-handled parasol 
Suggests for presentation 

To one so well deserving all 
Esteem and admiration. 



First Annual Report of the New York Dispensary for Poor 
Women and Children, 1855 

The design of this institution is to give to poor women 
an opportunity of consulting physicians of their own sex. 
The existing charities of our city regard the employment 
of women as physicians as an experiment, the success of 
which has not yet been sufficiently proved to admit of cordial 
co-operation. It was therefore necessary to form a separate 
institution which should furnish to poor women the medical 
aid which they could not obtain elsewhere. 

The following gentlemen cordially consented to act as 
trustees of the proposed institution : Messrs. Butler, White, 
Haydock, Sedgwick, Collins, Field, Draper, Greeley, West, 
Harris, Foster, Raymond, Flanders, Dana, Manning, Spring, 
Bowne. Consulting physicians, Drs. Kissam, Parker, Cam- 
mann, Taylor. Attending physician, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. 

Messrs. Sedgwick and Butler kindly procured an Act of 
Incorporation. A meeting for organisation was held on Janu- 
ary 30, 1854. A constitution and by-laws were adopted, and 
the following members were appointed an Executive Com- 
mittee to transact the business for the year : Stacy B. Collins, 
Richard H. Bowne, Charles A. Dana, Elizabeth Blackwell, 
Charles Foster. 

The Eleventh Ward was chosen as the location for the 
dispensary, it being destitute of medical charity, while posses- 
sing a densely crowded poor population. The necessary 
rooms were found in Seventh Street, near Tompkins Square, 
and were ready for the reception of patients in the month of 
March. The dispensary has been regularly opened through 
the year, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, at 
3 o'clock. Over 200 poor women have received medical aid. 
All these women have gratefully acknowledged the help 

Appendix 235 

afforded them, and several of the most destitute have tendered 
their few pence as an offering to the institution. 

With all these patients, the necessity of cleanliness, ventila- 
tion, and judicious diet has been strongly urged, and in many 
cases the advice has been followed, at any rate for a time. 
A word of counsel or information, too, has often been given 
to the destitute widow or friendless girl who was seeking 
work as well as health ; the best methods of seeking employ- 
ment have been pointed out, suitable charities occasionally 
recommended, and pecuniary aid sometimes rendered. 

Since the double distress of commercial pressure and 
severe weather have weighed so heavily on the poor, many 
cases of extreme destitution have come to the dispensary. 
These have been chiefly emigrants, mostly Germans, without 
friends or money, and ignorant of the language. Several 
families have been visited where some member was sick, 
and found utterly destitute, suffering from hunger, and 
though honest and industrious, disappointed in every effort 
to obtain work. To such families a little help with money, 
generally in the form of a loan till work could be procured, 
has proved invaluable, and a small poor fund placed by 
some friends in the hands of the attending physician, for 
this special object, has saved several worthy families from 
despair and impending starvation. 

The dispensary has been removed since January 1, 1855, 
to No. 150 Third Street, between Avenues A and B, opposite 
the large Catholic church ; all persons who are interested in 
its objects are cordially invited to call there. It will be open 
as heretofore from 3 to 5 o'clock on Monday, Wednesday, 
and Friday afternoons. Poor women and children may be 
sent from any part of the city to receive the medical aid of 
the dispensary, it being free to all. 

This institution was commenced by the subscriptions of a 
few friends ; its expenses have been kept within its means, 
but the power of doing good has necessarily been limited by 
the smallness of its funds. It is found desirable to enlarge 
its operations, and place it on a permanent basis. For this 
purpose, the trustees wish to raise the sum of 5000 dollars, 
and contributions are earnestly solicited. The following 
members are appointed to receive contributions : 

Stacy B. Collins, 155 Bleecker Street, 

Robert Haydock, 46 Broadway, 

Elizabeth Blackwell, 79 East Fifteenth Street. 

The amount raised will be invested as a permanent fund 


Pioneer Work 

lor the institution. It is the hope of the founders of this 
charity to make it eventually a hospital for women and a 
school for the education of nurses. 

The books of the dispensary are always open to the inspec- 
tion of members, on application to the attending physician. 

New York: February 8, 1855. 




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